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Inequality and Growth: What Can the Data Say?

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  • Abhijit V. Banerjee
  • Esther Duflo

Abstract

This paper describes the correlations between inequality and the growth rates in cross-country data. Using non-parametric methods, we show that the growth rate is an inverted U-shaped function of net changes in inequality: Changes in inequality (in any direction) are associated with reduced growth in the next period. The estimated relationship is robust to variations in control variables and estimation methods. This inverted U-curve is consistent with a simple political economy model, although, as we point out, efforts to interpret this model causally run into difficult identification problems. We show that this non-linearity is sufficient to explain why previous estimates of the relationship between the level of inequality and growth are so different from one another.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 7793.

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Date of creation: Jul 2000
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Publication status: published as Banerjee, Abhijit V. and Esther Duflo. "Inequality And Growth: What Can The Data Say?," Journal of Economic Growth, 2003, v8(3,Sep), 267-299.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7793

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  1. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1991. "Is Inequality Harmful for Growth? Theory and Evidence," CEPR Discussion Papers 581, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Alberto Alesina & Dani Rodrik, 1991. "Distributive Politics and Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 3668, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. T. N. Srinivasan, 1994. "Destitution: A Discourse," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 32(4), pages 1842-1855, December.
  4. Hausman, J.A. & Newey, W.K., 1992. "Nonparametric Estimation of Exact Consumers Surplus and Deadweight Loss," Working papers 93-2, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  5. Galor, Oded & Zeira, Joseph, 1988. "Income Distribution and Macroeconomics," MPRA Paper 51644, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 01 Sep 1989.
  6. Daron Acemoglu & Fabrizio Zilibotti, 1994. "Was Prometheus unbound by chance? Risk, diversification and growth," Economics Working Papers 98, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  7. Alan Krueger & Mikael Lindahl, 2000. "Education for Growth: Why and For Whom?," Working Papers 808, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  8. Perotti, Roberto & Alesina, Alberto, 1996. "Income Distribution, Political Instability, and Investment," Scholarly Articles 4553018, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  9. Abhijit V. Banerjee & Andrew F. Newman, 1990. "Occupational Choice and the Process of Development," Discussion Papers 911, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  10. Alesina, Alberto & Perotti, Roberto, 1996. "Income distribution, political instability, and investment," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(6), pages 1203-1228, June.
  11. Barro, Robert J, 2000. " Inequality and Growth in a Panel of Countries," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 5(1), pages 5-32, March.
  12. Arellano, Manuel & Bond, Stephen, 1991. "Some Tests of Specification for Panel Data: Monte Carlo Evidence and an Application to Employment Equations," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(2), pages 277-97, April.
  13. Piketty, Thomas, 1997. "The Dynamics of the Wealth Distribution and the Interest Rate with Credit Rationing," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 64(2), pages 173-89, April.
  14. Li, Hongyi & Zou, Heng-fu, 1998. "Income Inequality Is Not Harmful for Growth: Theory and Evidence," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 2(3), pages 318-34, October.
  15. Dasgupta, Partha & Ray, Debraj, 1986. "Inequality as a Determinant of Malnutrition and Unemployment: Theory," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 96(384), pages 1011-34, December.
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Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. Doit-on craindre la hausse des inégalités ?
    by david.marguerit@gmail.com (David Marguerit) in BS Initiative on 2013-12-03 13:44:04
  2. Les inégalités sont bonnes pour la croissance des riches… pas pour celle des pauvres
    by ? in D'un champ l'autre on 2014-07-05 23:59:00
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