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Growing Into and Out of Social Conflict


  • Philipp Harms
  • Stefan Zink


We develop a model of growth and distributional conflict which demonstrates that social tensions may peak at an intermediate development stage. In fact, unless the economy is caught in an underdevelopment trap, the relationship between average wealth and the likelihood of radical redistribution tends to be hump-shaped: while the net benefits of redistribution for the poor are small at low development stages, moving towards egalitarianism considerably improves their income prospects once an intermediate level of per capita wealth is reached. As the economy grows further, the incentive to challenge the existing social order decreases again and eventually vanishes. Copyright (c) The London School of Economics and Political Science 2005.

Suggested Citation

  • Philipp Harms & Stefan Zink, 2005. "Growing Into and Out of Social Conflict," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 72(286), pages 267-286, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:econom:v:72:y:2005:i:286:p:267-286

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Alberto Alesina & Dani Rodrik, 1994. "Distributive Politics and Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(2), pages 465-490.
    2. Olson, Mancur, 1963. "Rapid Growth as a Destabilizing Force," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 23(04), pages 529-552, December.
    3. Oded Galor & Joseph Zeira, 1993. "Income Distribution and Macroeconomics," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 60(1), pages 35-52.
    4. Roberto Perotti, 1993. "Political Equilibrium, Income Distribution, and Growth," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 60(4), pages 755-776.
    5. Roland Bénabou, 1996. "Inequality and Growth," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1996, Volume 11, pages 11-92 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Kiminori Matsuyama, 2000. "Endogenous Inequality," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 67(4), pages 743-759.
    7. Grossman, Herschel I, 1994. "Production, Appropriation, and Land Reform," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 705-712, June.
    8. Daron Acemoglu & James A. Robinson, 2000. "Why Did the West Extend the Franchise? Democracy, Inequality, and Growth in Historical Perspective," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(4), pages 1167-1199.
    9. Grossman, Herschel I., 1995. "Robin hood and the redistribution of property income," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 11(3), pages 399-410, September.
    10. Philip R. Lane & Aaron Tornell, 1999. "The Voracity Effect," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 22-46, March.
    11. repec:cup:apsrev:v:82:y:1988:i:02:p:491-509_08 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Maoz, Yishay D & Moav, Omer, 1999. "Intergenerational Mobility and the Process of Development," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(458), pages 677-697, October.
    13. E. Somanathan, 2002. "Can Growth Ease Class Conflict?," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 14(1), pages 65-81.
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    Cited by:

    1. Achim Kemmerling, 2003. "Regional Input on the Social Dimension of Ezoneplus: Belgium, The Netherlands, France, Austria, and Germany," Eastward Enlargement of the Euro-zone Working Papers wp13c, Free University Berlin, Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence, revised 01 Mar 2003.

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