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Economic Growth and Inequality: Evidence from the Young Democracies of South America

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  • Manoel Bittencourt

    ()
    (Department of Economics, University of Pretoria)

Abstract

We investigate in this paper whether income growth has played any role on inequality in all nine young South American democracies during the period 1970-2007. The results, based on dynamic panel time-series analysis, robustly suggest that income growth has indeed played a progressive role in reducing inequality during the period. Moreover, the results suggest that this negative relationship is even stronger in the 1990s and early 2000s, a period in which the continent achieved macroeconomic stabilisation, political consolidation and much improved economic performance. On the contrary, during the 1980s (the so-called "lost decade"), the negative income growth experienced by the continent at the time has hit the poor the hardest, or alternatively speaking, it has played a regressive role on inequality. All in all, we suggest that consistent growth, and all that it encompasses, is an important equaliser which should not be discarded as a serious option by policy makers interested in a more equal income distribution.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Pretoria, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 201301.

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Length: 25 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:pre:wpaper:201301

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Keywords: Growth; inequality; South America;

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  1. Manoel Bittencourt, 2008. "Financial Development and Inequality: Brazil 1985-1994," Working Papers 86, Economic Research Southern Africa.
  2. Steve Bond, 2002. "Dynamic panel data models: a guide to microdata methods and practice," CeMMAP working papers CWP09/02, Centre for Microdata Methods and Practice, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  3. Alberto Alesina & Allan Drazen, 1989. "Why are Stabilizations Delayed?," NBER Working Papers 3053, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Antonio Spilimbergo & Juan Luis Londoño & Miguel Székely, 1997. "Income Distribution, Factor Endowments, and Trade Openness," Research Department Publications 4088, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
  5. Mattias Lundberg & Lyn Squire, 2003. "The simultaneous evolution of growth and inequality," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(487), pages 326-344, 04.
  6. 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.
  7. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1994. "Is Inequality Harmful for Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 600-621, June.
  8. Hongyi Li & Lyn Squire & Heng-fu Zou, 1998. "Explaining International and Intertemporal Variations in Income Inequality," CEMA Working Papers 73, China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics.
  9. James E. Foster & Miguel Székely, 2008. "Is Economic Growth Good For The Poor? Tracking Low Incomes Using General Means," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 49(4), pages 1143-1172, November.
  10. Manoel F. Meyer Bittencourt, 2005. "Macroeconomic Performance and Inequality: Brazil 1983-94," Ibero America Institute for Econ. Research (IAI) Discussion Papers 130, Ibero-America Institute for Economic Research.
  11. Clarke, George R. G., 1992. "More evidence on income distribution and growth," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1064, The World Bank.
  12. Dollar, David & Kraay, Aart, 2002. " Growth Is Good for the Poor," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 7(3), pages 195-225, September.
  13. Barro, Robert J. & Lee, Jong Wha, 2013. "A new data set of educational attainment in the world, 1950–2010," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 184-198.
  14. Beck, T.H.L. & Demirgüç-Kunt, A. & Levine, R., 2007. "Finance, inequality and the poor," Open Access publications from Tilburg University urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-3125426, Tilburg University.
  15. Judson, Ruth A. & Owen, Ann L., 1999. "Estimating dynamic panel data models: a guide for macroeconomists," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 9-15, October.
  16. Barro, Robert J, 2000. " Inequality and Growth in a Panel of Countries," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 5(1), pages 5-32, March.
  17. Panizza, Ugo, 2002. " Income Inequality and Economic Growth: Evidence from American Data," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 7(1), pages 25-41, March.
  18. de Janvry, Alain & Sadoulet, Elisabeth, 2000. "Growth, Poverty, and Inequality in Latin America: A Causal Analysis, 1970-94," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 46(3), pages 267-87, September.
  19. Easterly, William, 1999. " Life during Growth," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 4(3), pages 239-76, September.
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