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Does slow growth lead to rising inequality? Some theoretical reflections and numerical simulations

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  • Jackson, Tim
  • Victor, Peter A.

Abstract

This paper explores the hypothesis (most notably made by French economist Thomas Piketty) that slow growth rates lead to rising inequality. If true, this hypothesis would pose serious challenges to achieving ‘prosperity without growth’ or meeting the ambitions of those who call for an intentional slowing down of growth on ecological grounds. It would also create problems of social justice in the context of a ‘secular stagnation’. The paper describes a closed, demand-driven, stock-flow consistent model of Savings, Inequality and Growth in a Macroeconomic framework (SIGMA) with exogenous growth and savings rates. SIGMA is used to examine the evolution of inequality in the context of declining economic growth. Contrary to the general hypothesis, we find that inequality does not necessarily increase as growth slows down. In fact, there are certain conditions under which inequality can be reduced significantly, or even eliminated entirely, as growth declines. The paper discusses the implications of this finding for questions of employment, government fiscal policy and the politics of de-growth.

Suggested Citation

  • Jackson, Tim & Victor, Peter A., 2016. "Does slow growth lead to rising inequality? Some theoretical reflections and numerical simulations," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 121(C), pages 206-219.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:121:y:2016:i:c:p:206-219
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2015.03.019
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    1. repec:wfo:wstudy:58788 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. repec:taf:revpoe:v:28:y:2016:i:4:p:612-618 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. repec:eee:ecolec:v:146:y:2018:i:c:p:228-239 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Tim Jackson & Peter Victor & Asjad Naqvi, 2016. "Towards a Stock-Flow Consistent Ecological Macroeconomics," WWWforEurope Working Papers series 114, WWWforEurope.
    5. Adam B. Barrett, 2017. "Stability of zero-growth economics analysed with a Minskyan model," Papers 1704.08161, arXiv.org, revised Nov 2017.
    6. repec:khe:scajes:v:4:y:2018:i:3:p:76-86 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Rezai, Armon & Stagl, Sigrid, 2016. "Ecological Macreconomics: Introduction and Review," Ecological Economic Papers 4803, WU Vienna University of Economics and Business.
    8. Stefan Nabernegg & Birgit Bednar-Friedl & Pablo Munoz & Michaela Tietz & Johanna Vogel, 2018. "National policies for global emission reductions: Effectiveness of carbon emission reductions in international supply chains," Graz Economics Papers 2018-10, University of Graz, Department of Economics.
    9. Campiglio, Emanuele, 2016. "Beyond carbon pricing: The role of banking and monetary policy in financing the transition to a low-carbon economy," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 121(C), pages 220-230.
    10. Røpke, Inge, 2016. "Complementary system perspectives in ecological macroeconomics — The example of transition investments during the crisis," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 121(C), pages 237-245.
    11. repec:eee:ecolec:v:152:y:2018:i:c:p:118-130 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Taylor, Lance & Rezai, Armon & Foley, Duncan K., 2016. "An integrated approach to climate change, income distribution, employment, and economic growth," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 121(C), pages 196-205.
    13. Larch, Mario & Löning, Markus & Wanner, Joschka, 2018. "Can degrowth overcome the leakage problem of unilateral climate policy?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 152(C), pages 118-130.
    14. Morgan, Jamie, 2017. "Piketty and the Growth Dilemma Revisited in the Context of Ecological Economics," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 136(C), pages 169-177.
    15. repec:bla:jecsur:v:31:y:2017:i:5:p:1204-1239 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. Hardt, Lukas & O'Neill, Daniel W., 2017. "Ecological Macroeconomic Models: Assessing Current Developments," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 134(C), pages 198-211.
    17. repec:eee:enepol:v:108:y:2017:i:c:p:12-20 is not listed on IDEAS

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