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The Division of Labor, Inequality and Growth


  • Fishman, Arthur
  • Simhon, Avi


We present a model that links the division of labor and economic growth with the division of wealth in society. When capital market imperfections restrict the access of poor households to capital, the division of wealth affects individual incentives to invest in specialization. In turn, the division of labor determines the dynamics of the wealth distribution. A highly concentrated distribution of wealth leads to a low degree of specialization, low productivity, and low wages. In that case workers are unable to accumulate enough wealth to invest in specialization. Hence, in a highly unequal society, there is a vicious cycle in which the degree of specialization, productivity and wages stay low, wealth and income inequality stays high and the economy stagnates. By contrast, greater equality increases investment in specialization and leads to a greater division of labor and higher long run development. Copyright 2002 by Kluwer Academic Publishers

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  • Fishman, Arthur & Simhon, Avi, 2002. "The Division of Labor, Inequality and Growth," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 7(2), pages 117-136, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jecgro:v:7:y:2002:i:2:p:117-36

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Fali Huang, 2012. "The Coevolution Of Economic And Political Development From Monarchy To Democracy," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 53(4), pages 1341-1368, November.
    2. Grossmann, Volker, 2008. "Risky human capital investment, income distribution, and macroeconomic dynamics," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 19-42, March.
    3. Muhammad Tariq MAJEED, 2010. "Inequality, Trade Openness And Economic Growth In Asia," Applied Econometrics and International Development, Euro-American Association of Economic Development, vol. 10(2).
    4. Shinhye Chang & Rangan Gupta & Stephen M. Miller, 2018. "Causality Between Per Capita Real GDP and Income Inequality in the U.S.: Evidence from a Wavelet Analysis," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 135(1), pages 269-289, January.
    5. Oded Stark, 2006. "Status Aspirations, Wealth Inequality, and Economic Growth," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 10(1), pages 171-176, February.
    6. Oded Galor & Omer Moav, 2004. "From Physical to Human Capital Accumulation: Inequality and the Process of Development," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 71(4), pages 1001-1026.
    7. WANG, Zuxiang & SMYTH, Russell & NG, Yew-Kwang, 2009. "A new ordered family of Lorenz curves with an application to measuring income inequality and poverty in rural China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 218-235, June.
    8. Shekhar Aiyar & Carl-Johan Dalgaard & Omer Moav, 2008. "Technological progress and regress in pre-industrial times," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 13(2), pages 125-144, June.
    9. Phillips, Kerk L., 2010. "A Dynamic Model of Specialization and Market Development as Engines of Economic Growth," MPRA Paper 23500, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. Wan, Guanghua & Lu, Ming & Chen, Zhao, 2006. "The inequality-growth nexus in the short and long run: Empirical evidence from China," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(4), pages 654-667, December.
    11. Karolin Kirschenmann & Tuomas Malinen & Henri Nyberg, 2014. "The risk of financial crises: Is it in real or financial factors?," Working Papers 336, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.
    12. Oded Galor, 2009. "Inequality and Economic Development: An Overview," Working Papers 2009-3, Brown University, Department of Economics.
    13. Ming Lu & Hong Gao, 2010. "When Globalization Meets Urbanization: Labor Market Reform, Income Inequality, and Economic Growth in the People’s Republic of China," Working Papers id:3095, eSocialSciences.
    14. Raphael BAR-EL & Dafna SCHWARTZ, 2003. "Economic Growth, Inequality And Spatial Demographic Distribution: A Brazilian Case," Region et Developpement, Region et Developpement, LEAD, Universite du Sud - Toulon Var, vol. 18, pages 147-170.
    15. Thomas Leoni & Wolfgang Pollan, 2003. "The Impact of Inequality on Economic Growth," WIFO Working Papers 211, WIFO.
    16. Ayal Kimhi, 2004. "Growth, Inequality and Labor Markets in LDCs: A Survey," CESifo Working Paper Series 1281, CESifo Group Munich.

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