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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. Andrea Brandolini & Anthony B. Atkinson, 2001. "Promise and Pitfalls in the Use of "Secondary" Data-Sets: Income Inequality in OECD Countries As a Case Study," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 39(3), pages 771-799, September.
  2. Acemoglu, Daron & Zilibotti, Fabrizio, 1997. "Was Prometheus Unbound by Chance? Risk, Diversification, and Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(4), pages 709-51, August.
  3. Hausman, Jerry A & Newey, Whitney K, 1995. "Nonparametric Estimation of Exact Consumers Surplus and Deadweight Loss," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 63(6), pages 1445-76, November.
  4. Alesina, Alberto F & Rodrik, Dani, 1991. "Distributive Politics and Economic Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 565, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Banerjee, Abhijit V & Newman, Andrew F, 1993. "Occupational Choice and the Process of Development," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(2), pages 274-98, April.
  6. Alan Krueger & Mikael Lindahl, 2000. "Education for Growth: Why and For Whom?," Working Papers 808, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  7. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1991. "Is Inequality Harmful for Growth? Theory and Evidence," CEPR Discussion Papers 581, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Galor, Oded & Zeira, Joseph, 1993. "Income Distribution and Macroeconomics," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(1), pages 35-52, January.
  9. Perotti, Roberto & Alesina, Alberto, 1996. "Income Distribution, Political Instability, and Investment," Scholarly Articles 4553018, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. Barro, Robert J, 2000. " Inequality and Growth in a Panel of Countries," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 5(1), pages 5-32, March.
  13. Alberto Alesina & Roberto Perotti, 1993. "Income Distribution, Political Instability, and Investment," NBER Working Papers 4486, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. 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.
  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.
  16. Abhijit Banerjee & Dilip Mookherjee & Kaivan Munshi & Debraj Ray, 2001. "Inequality, Control Rights, and Rent Seeking: Sugar Cooperatives in Maharashtra," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(1), pages 138-190, February.
  17. T. N. Srinivasan, 1994. "Destitution: A Discourse," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 32(4), pages 1842-1855, December.
  18. Benhabib, Jess & Spiegel, Mark, 1997. "Cross-Country Growth Regressions," Working Papers 97-20, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
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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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  1. > Economic History > Long-term Inequality and Mobility
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