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Income distribution, political instability, and investment

  • Alesina, Alberto
  • Perotti, Roberto

This paper successfully tests on a sample of 70 countries for the period 1960-85 the following hypotheses. Income inequality, by fueling social discontent, increases socio-political instability. The latter, by creating uncertainty in the politico-economic environment, reduces investment. As a consequence, income inequality and investment are inversely related. Since investment is a primary engine of growth, this paper identifies a channel for an inverse relationship between income inequality and growth. We measure socio-political instability with indices which capture the occurrence of more or less violent phenomena of political unrest and we test our hypotheses by estimating a two-equation model in which the endogenous variables are investment and an index of socio-political instability. Our results are robust to sensitivity analysis on the specification of the model and the measure of political instability, and are unchanged when the model is estimated using robust regression techniques.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal European Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 40 (1996)
Issue (Month): 6 (June)
Pages: 1203-1228

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Handle: RePEc:eee:eecrev:v:40:y:1996:i:6:p:1203-1228
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/eer

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  1. Roubini, Nouriel & Swagel, Phillip & Ozler, Sule & Alesina, Alberto, 1996. "Political Instability and Economic Growth," Scholarly Articles 4553024, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  2. Alesina, Alberto & Rodrik, Dani, 1994. "Distributive Politics and Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(2), pages 465-90, May.
  3. Berg, Andrew & Sachs, Jeffrey, 1988. "The debt crisis structural explanations of country performance," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 271-306, November.
  4. Benhabib, J. & Spiegel, M.M., 1992. "The Role of Human Capital and Political Instability in Economic Development," Working Papers 92-24, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  5. Sebastian Edwards & Guido Tabellini, 1991. "Political Instability, Political Weakness and Inflation: An Empirical Analysis," NBER Working Papers 3721, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Cukierman, Alex & Edwards, Sebastian & Tabellini, Guido, 1992. "Seigniorage and Political Instability," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 537-55, June.
  7. Ozler, Sule & Tabellini, Guido, 1991. "External Debt and Political Instability," CEPR Discussion Papers 582, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Alesina, Alberto, et al, 1996. " Political Instability and Economic Growth," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 1(2), pages 189-211, June.
  9. Persson, T. & Tabellini, G., 1993. "Is Inequality Harmful for Growth," Papers 537, Stockholm - International Economic Studies.
  10. Perotti, Roberto, 1993. "Political Equilibrium, Income Distribution, and Growth," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(4), pages 755-76, October.
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