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Endogenous Inequality

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  • Kiminori Matsuyama

Abstract

Does the market economy exacerbate inequality across households? In a capitalistick society, does the rich maintain a high level of wealth at the expense of the poor? Or would an accumulation of the wealth by the rich eventually trickle down to the poor and pull the latter out of poverty? This paper presents a theoretical framework, in which one can address these questions in a systematic way. The model focuses on the role of credit market, which determines the joint evolution of the distribution of wealth and the interest rate. A complete characterization of the steady states is provided. Under some configurations of the parameter values, the model predicts an endogenous and permanent separation of the population into the rich and the poor, where the rich maintains a high level of wealth partially due to the presence of the poor. Under others, the model predicts the Kuznets curve, i.e., the wealth eventually trickles down from the rich to the poor, eliminating inequality in the long run.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science in its series Discussion Papers with number 1238.

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Date of creation: Dec 1998
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Handle: RePEc:nwu:cmsems:1238

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Keywords: Imperfect Credit Markets; Distribution of Wealth; Endogenous Inequality; Trickle-Down; The Kuznets Curve;

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  1. Lucas, Robert Jr. & Stokey, Nancy L., 1984. "Optimal growth with many consumers," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 139-171, February.
  2. Bernanke, Ben & Gertler, Mark, 1989. "Agency Costs, Net Worth, and Business Fluctuations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(1), pages 14-31, March.
  3. Nobuhiro Kiyotaki & John Moore, 1995. "Credit Cycles," NBER Working Papers 5083, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Roland Bénabou, 1996. "Inequality and Growth," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1996, Volume 11, pages 11-92 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Aghion, Philippe & Bolton, Patrick, 1997. "A Theory of Trickle-Down Growth and Development," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 64(2), pages 151-72, April.
  6. 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.
  7. Oded Galor & Joseph Zeira, 2013. "Income Distribution and Macroeconomics," Working Papers 2013-12, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  8. 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.
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