Exclusive Goods and Formal-Sector Employment
We explore how the underemployment problem of less-developed economies is related to income inequality. Consumers have nonhomothetic preferences over differentiated products of formal-sector goods and thus inequality affects the composition of aggregate demand via the price-setting behavior of firms. We find that high inequality divides the formal sector into mass producers and exclusive producers (which serve only the rich); high inequality generates an equilibrium where many workers are crowded into the informal economy; and an increase in subsistence productivity raises the unskilled workers' wages and boosts employment due to the higher purchasing power of poorer households. (JEL D31, D43, E24, E26, J24)
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Volume (Year): 3 (2011)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
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