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Income Inequality and the Real Exchange Rate

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  • Pablo Garcia_S.

    (Central Bank of Chile)

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    Abstract

    In this paper I explore the effect of income inequality on the real exchange rate. I consider a version of the Salter-Swan model, where income inequality affects the real exchange rate through two general equilibrium channels: (i) the aggregation of individual demands derived from non-homothetic preferences; (ii) the workings of Samuelson-Balassa through the effect of inequality on the aggregation of human capital. If demand for non traded goods has an expenditure elasticity greater than one, and if tradables production is relatively intensive in human capital, then inequality has a non-monotonic effect on the level of the real exchange rate. Empirically, I find a strong relationship in levels between inequality and the bilateral real exchange rate. This partial correlation is large, significant, and positive in the case of within estimation and negative in the case of between estimation. I relate this finding to the expected short and long run effects of inequality on the real exchange rate, and the role factor endowments play in real exchange rate determination. I discuss the relationship of this fact with other strands of the literature, like the determinants of inequality, the effect of inequality on growth and the relevance of Samuelson-Balassa.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Econometric Society in its series Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers with number 0849.

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    Date of creation: 01 Aug 2000
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    Handle: RePEc:ecm:wc2000:0849

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    1. Maurice Obstfeld., 1993. "Model Trending Real Exchange Rates," Center for International and Development Economics Research (CIDER) Working Papers C93-011, University of California at Berkeley.
    2. Kristin J. Forbes, 2000. "A Reassessment of the Relationship between Inequality and Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 869-887, September.
    3. Dornbusch, Rudiger, 1974. "Tariffs and nontraded goods," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 177-185, May.
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    5. Maurice Obstfeld & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 1996. "Foundations of International Macroeconomics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262150476.
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    10. Deininger, Klaus & Squire, Lyn, 1996. "A New Data Set Measuring Income Inequality," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 10(3), pages 565-91, September.
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    13. Takatoshi Ito & Peter Isard & Steven Symansky, 1999. "Economic Growth and Real Exchange Rate: An Overview of the Balassa-Samuelson Hypothesis in Asia," NBER Chapters, in: Changes in Exchange Rates in Rapidly Developing Countries: Theory, Practice, and Policy Issues (NBER-EASE volume 7), pages 109-132 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    15. Bergstrand, Jeffrey H, 1991. "Structural Determinants of Real Exchange Rates and National Price Levels: Some Empirical Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(1), pages 325-34, March.
    16. Hansen, Julia L. & Formby, John P. & Smith, W. James, 1996. "The Income Elasticity of Demand for Housing: Evidence from Concentration Curves," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(2), pages 173-192, March.
    17. Bhagwati, Jagdish N, 1984. "Why Are Services Cheaper in the Poor Countries?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 94(374), pages 279-86, June.
    18. José De Gregorio & Jong-Wha Lee, 1999. "Education and Income Distribution: New Evidence from Cross-country Data," Documentos de Trabajo 55, Centro de Economía Aplicada, Universidad de Chile.
    19. Lewbel, Arthur, 1989. "Exact Aggregation and a Representative Consumer," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 104(3), pages 621-33, August.
    20. Deaton,Angus & Muellbauer,John, 1980. "Economics and Consumer Behavior," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521296762, October.
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