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The Political Economy of the Kuznets Curve

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  • Acemoglu, Daron
  • Robinson, James A

Abstract

The paper provides a political economy theory of the Kuznets curve. When development leads to increasing inequality, this can induce political instability and force democratization on political elites. Democratization leads to institutional changes which encourage redistribution and reduce inequality. Nevertheless, development does not necessarily induce a Kuznets curve, and it is shown that development may be associated with two types of nondemocratic paths: an "autocratic disaster," with high inequality and low output, and an "East Asian Miracle," with low inequality and high output. These arise either because inequality does not increase with development, or because the degree of political mobilization is low. Copyright 2002 by Blackwell Publishing Ltd

Suggested Citation

  • Acemoglu, Daron & Robinson, James A, 2002. "The Political Economy of the Kuznets Curve," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 6(2), pages 183-203, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:rdevec:v:6:y:2002:i:2:p:183-203
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    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. Oded Galor & Joseph Zeira, 1993. "Income Distribution and Macroeconomics," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 60(1), pages 35-52.
    3. Roberto Perotti, 1993. "Political Equilibrium, Income Distribution, and Growth," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 60(4), pages 755-776.
    4. Banerjee, Abhijit V & Newman, Andrew F, 1993. "Occupational Choice and the Process of Development," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(2), pages 274-298, April.
    5. Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 1999. "The Returns to Skill in the United States across the Twentieth Century," NBER Working Papers 7126, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. 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.
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