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Inequality, Too Much of a Good Thing

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  • Alan Krueger

Abstract

As the title of this essay suggests, I believe there are both positive and negative effects of inequality. On the positive side, differential rewards provide incentives for individuals to work hard, invest and innovate. On the negative side, differences in rewards that are unrelated to productivity – due to racial discrimination, for example – are corrosive to civil society and cause resources to be misallocated. Even if discrimination did not exist, however, income inequality would be problematic in a democratic society if those who are privileged use their economic muscle to curry favor in the political arena and thereby secure monopoly rents or other advantages. Moreover, for several reasons discussed in the next section, poverty and income inequality create negative externalities. Consequently, it can be in the interest of the wealthy as well as the poor to raise the incomes of the poor, especially by using education and training as a means for redistribution.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section. in its series Working Papers with number 845.

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Date of creation: Apr 2002
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Handle: RePEc:pri:indrel:dsp01cj82k729k

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  1. Honore, Bo E & Hu, Luojia, 2004. "On the Performance of Some Robust Instrumental Variables Estimators," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 22(1), pages 30-39, January.
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  10. Howard S. Bloom & Larry L. Orr & Stephen H. Bell & George Cave & Fred Doolittle & Winston Lin & Johannes M. Bos, 1997. "The Benefits and Costs of JTPA Title II-A Programs: Key Findings from the National Job Training Partnership Act Study," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 32(3), pages 549-576.
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  12. James J. Heckman, 1999. "Policies to Foster Human Capital," NBER Working Papers 7288, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  16. Bénabou, Roland, 2000. "Tax And Education Policy In A Heterogeneous Agent Economy: What Levels Of Redistribution Maximize Growth And Efficiency?," CEPR Discussion Papers 2446, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  17. Shea, John, 2000. "Does parents' money matter?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 77(2), pages 155-184, August.
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  23. repec:fth:prinin:451 is not listed on IDEAS
  24. Colm Harmon; & Ian Walker, 1995. "Estimates of Economic Return to Schooling in the UK," Economics, Finance and Accounting Department Working Paper Series n540195, Department of Economics, Finance and Accounting, National University of Ireland - Maynooth.
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  28. Marianne Bertrand & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2001. "Are Ceos Rewarded For Luck? The Ones Without Principals Are," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(3), pages 901-932, August.
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