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Income distribution, political instability, and investment

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  • Alesina, Alberto
  • Perotti, Roberto

Abstract

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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  • Alesina, Alberto & Perotti, Roberto, 1996. "Income distribution, political instability, and investment," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(6), pages 1203-1228, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:eecrev:v:40:y:1996:i:6:p:1203-1228
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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. Robert J. Barro, 1991. "Economic Growth in a Cross Section of Countries," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(2), pages 407-443.
    3. Roberto Perotti, 1993. "Political Equilibrium, Income Distribution, and Growth," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 60(4), pages 755-776.
    4. 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.
    5. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1994. "Is Inequality Harmful for Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 600-621, June.
    6. 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.
    7. Alesina, Alberto & Özler, Sule & Roubini, Nouriel & Swagel, Phillip, 1996. "Political Instability and Economic Growth," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 1(2), pages 189-211, June.
    8. Sebastian Edwards & Guido Tabellini, 1991. "Political Instability, Political Weakness and Inflation: An Empirical Analysis," NBER Working Papers 3721, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Cukierman, Alex & Edwards, Sebastian & Tabellini, Guido, 1992. "Seigniorage and Political Instability," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 537-555, June.
    10. Sule Ozler & Guido Tabellini, 1991. "External Debt and Political Instability," NBER Working Papers 3772, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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