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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
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  1. Ozler, Sule & Tabellini, Guido, 1991. "External Debt and Political Instability," CEPR Discussion Papers 582, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Rodrik, Dani & Alesina, Alberto, 1994. "Distributive Politics and Economic Growth," Scholarly Articles 4551798, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  3. Persson, T. & Tabellini, G., 1993. "Is Inequality Harmful for Growth," Papers 537, Stockholm - International Economic Studies.
  4. Alesina, Alberto, et al, 1996. " Political Instability and Economic Growth," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 1(2), pages 189-211, June.
  5. 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.
  6. Perotti, Roberto, 1993. "Political Equilibrium, Income Distribution, and Growth," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(4), pages 755-76, October.
  7. Andrew Berg & Jeffrey Sachs, 1988. "The Debt Crisis: Structural Explanations of Country Performance," NBER Working Papers 2607, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  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. Alex Cukierman & Sebastian Edwards & Guido Tabellini, 1989. "Seigniorage and Political Instability," NBER Working Papers 3199, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Roubini, Nouriel & Swagel, Phillip & Ozler, Sule & Alesina, Alberto, 1996. "Political Instability and Economic Growth," Scholarly Articles 4553024, Harvard University Department of Economics.
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