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Does Liberte = Egalite ? A survey of the empirical links between democracy and inequality with some evidence on the transition economies

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  • Gradstein. Mark
  • Milanovic, Branko

Abstract

The effect of the distribution of political rights on income inequality has been studied both theoretically and empirically. The authors review the existing literature and, in particular, the available empirical evidence. The literature suggests that formal exclusion from the political process through restrictions on the voting franchise appears to have caused a high degree of economic inequality. And democratization in the form of franchise expansion has typically led to an expansion in redistribution, at least in the small sample of episodes studied. In a less pronounced way, albeit more emphatically compared with the ambiguous results of earlier research, recent evidence indicates an inverse relationship between other measures of democracy, based on civil liberties and political rights, and inequality. The transition experience of Eastern European countries, however, seems to some extent go against these conclusions. This opens possible new vistas for research, namely the need to incorporate the length of democratic experience and the role played by ideology and social values

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 2875.

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Date of creation: 31 Aug 2002
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:2875

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Keywords: Labor Policies; Politics and Government; Decentralization; Human Rights; Poverty Impact Evaluation; Poverty Impact Evaluation; Politics and Government; Governance Indicators; Inequality; Human Rights;

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  1. Rodrik, Dani, 1998. "Democracies Pay Higher Wages," CEPR Discussion Papers 1776, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1994. "Is Inequality Harmful for Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 600-621, June.
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  16. John R. Lott & Jr. & Lawrence W. Kenny, 1999. "Did Women's Suffrage Change the Size and Scope of Government?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(6), pages 1163-1198, December.
  17. Daron Acemoglu & James Robinson, 1999. "A Theory of Political Transitions," Working papers 99-26, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  18. Perotti, Roberto, 1993. "Political Equilibrium, Income Distribution, and Growth," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(4), pages 755-76, October.
  19. Klaus Deininger & Lyn Squire, 1996. "A New Data Set Measuring Income Inequality," CEMA Working Papers 512, China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics.
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  24. Milanovic, Branko, 1999. "Do more unequal countries redistribute more? does the median voter hypothesis hold?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2264, The World Bank.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Drosdowski, Thomas, 2005. "Democracy Deficits, Inequality and Pollution. A Politico-Economic Analysis," Hannover Economic Papers (HEP) dp-323, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät.
  2. Christopher Gerry & Tomasz Mickiewicz, 2006. "Inequality, Fiscal Capacity and the Political Regime: Lessons from the Post-Communist Transition," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series wp831, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
  3. Uwaifo Oyelere, Ruth, 2008. "Understanding Low Average Returns to Education in Africa: The Role of Heterogeneity across Education Levels and the Importance of Political and Economic Reforms," IZA Discussion Papers 3766, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Tausch, Arno, 2009. "Ist die Globalisierung fit für das soziale Europa?
    [Is Globalization fit for Social Europe?]
    ," MPRA Paper 14264, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  5. Carmignani, Fabrizio, 2009. "The distributive effects of institutional quality when government stability is endogenous," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 25(4), pages 409-421, December.
  6. Almas Heshmati, 2006. "Continental And Sub-Continental Income Inequality," The IUP Journal of Applied Economics, IUP Publications, vol. 0(1), pages 7-52, January.
  7. Suresh Naidu, 2012. "Suffrage, Schooling, and Sorting in the Post-Bellum U.S. South," NBER Working Papers 18129, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Adalgiso Amendola & Joshy Easaw & Antonio Savoia, 2011. "Inequality in Developing Economies: The Role of Institutional Development," Discussion Papers 1107, Exeter University, Department of Economics.
  9. Bjørnskov, Christian, 2010. "Do elites benefit from democracy and foreign aid in developing countries?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(2), pages 115-124, July.
  10. Uwaifo Oyelere, Ruth, 2007. "Within and Between Gender Disparities in Income and Education Benefits from Democracy," IZA Discussion Papers 3221, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  11. Vollmer, Sebastian & Ziegler, Maria, 2009. "Political Institutions and Human Development Does Democracy Fulfill its 'Constructive' and 'Instrumental' Role?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4818, The World Bank.
  12. Ewig, Christina & Palmucci, Gastón A., 2012. "Inequality and the Politics of Social Policy Implementation: Gender, Age and Chile’s 2004 Health Reforms," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 40(12), pages 2490-2504.
  13. Roland Hodler & Simon Luechinger & Alois Stutzer, 2012. "The Effects of Voting Costs on the Democratic Process and Public Finances," Working papers 2012/02, Faculty of Business and Economics - University of Basel.
  14. Savoia, Antonio & Easaw, Joshy & McKay, Andrew, 2010. "Inequality, Democracy, and Institutions: A Critical Review of Recent Research," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 142-154, February.
  15. Drosdowski, Thomas, 2006. "On the Link Between Democracy and Environment," Hannover Economic Papers (HEP) dp-355, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät.

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