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Growth, Income Distribution, and Democracy: What the Data Say

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  • Perotti, Roberto

Abstract

This paper investigates the relationship between income distribution, democratic institutions, and growth. It does so by addressing three main issues: the properties and reliability of the income distribution data, the robustness of the reduced form relationship between income distribution and growth estimated so far, and the specific channels through which income distribution affects growth. The main conclusion in this regard is that there is strong empirical support for two types of explanations, linking income distribution to sociopolitical instability and to the education/fertility decision. A third channel, based on the interplay of borrowing constraints and investment in human capital, also seems to receive some support by the data, although it is probably the hardest to test with the existing data. By contrast, there appears to be less empirical support for explanations based on the effects of income distribution on fiscal policy. Copyright 1996 by Kluwer Academic Publishers

Suggested Citation

  • Perotti, Roberto, 1996. "Growth, Income Distribution, and Democracy: What the Data Say," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 1(2), pages 149-187, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jecgro:v:1:y:1996:i:2:p:149-87
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Abhijit V. Banerjee & Andrew F. Newman, 1991. "Risk-Bearing and the Theory of Income Distribution," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 58(2), pages 211-235.
    2. Roberto Perotti, 1993. "Political Equilibrium, Income Distribution, and Growth," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 60(4), pages 755-776.
    3. Galor, Oded & Zang, Hyoungsoo, 1997. "Fertility, income distribution, and economic growth: Theory and cross-country evidence," Japan and the World Economy, Elsevier, vol. 9(2), pages 197-229, May.
    4. Alberto Alesina & Dani Rodrik, 1994. "Distributive Politics and Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(2), pages 465-490.
    5. Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 1992. "Transfers," NBER Working Papers 4186, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. 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.
    7. Oded Galor & Joseph Zeira, 1993. "Income Distribution and Macroeconomics," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 60(1), pages 35-52.
    8. Tullio Jappelli & Marco Pagano, 1994. "Saving, Growth, and Liquidity Constraints," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(1), pages 83-109.
    9. 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.
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