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Income inequality and economic freedom in the U.S. states

  • Nathan Ashby
  • Russell Sobel


This paper examines the impact of economic freedom on income inequality using cross-sectional data for U.S. states. While previous research has explored this relationship internationally, the results have been conflicting. In addition, while it seems obvious that the large institutional differences across countries will impact income inequality, it isn’t so obvious that the smaller variation in policies among U.S. states can have a measurable impact. Can improvements in income inequality be used as a justification for marginal pro-market policy reforms at the state level, or is this argument applicable only to national-level institutional reforms?

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Article provided by Springer in its journal Public Choice.

Volume (Year): 134 (2008)
Issue (Month): 3 (March)
Pages: 329-346

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Handle: RePEc:kap:pubcho:v:134:y:2008:i:3:p:329-346
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  1. Nathan J. Ashby, 2007. "Economic Freedom and Migration Flows between U.S. States," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 73(3), pages 677–697, January.
  2. Alberto Alesina & Dani Rodrik, 1991. "Distributive Politics and Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 3668, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1994. "Is Inequality Harmful for Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 600-621, June.
  4. Heckelman, Jac C & Stroup, Michael D, 2000. "Which Economic Freedoms Contribute to Growth?," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 53(4), pages 527-44.
  5. Julio H. Cole & Robert A. Lawson, 2007. "Handling Economic Freedom in Growth Regressions: Suggestions for Clarification," Econ Journal Watch, Econ Journal Watch, vol. 4(1), pages 71-78, January.
  6. Alesina, Alberto & Perotti, Roberto, 1994. "The Political Economy of Growth: A Critical Survey of the Recent Literature," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 8(3), pages 351-71, September.
  7. Alfredo Esposto & Peter Zaleski, 1999. "Economic Freedom and the Quality of Life: An Empirical Analysis," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 185-197, June.
  8. Kristin J. Forbes, 2000. "A Reassessment of the Relationship between Inequality and Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 869-887, September.
  9. Clarke, George R. G., 1992. "More evidence on income distribution and growth," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1064, The World Bank.
  10. repec:cto:journl:v:18:y:1998:i:2:p: is not listed on IDEAS
  11. Julio H. Cole, 2003. "The Contribution of Economic Freedom to World Economic Growth: 1980-99," Cato Journal, Cato Journal, Cato Institute, vol. 23(2), pages 189-198, Fall.
  12. Steven F. Kreft & Russell S. Sobel, 2005. "Public Policy, Entrepreneurship, And Economic Freedom," Cato Journal, Cato Journal, Cato Institute, vol. 25(3), pages 595-616, Fall.
  13. Dawson, John W, 1998. "Institutions, Investment, and Growth: New Cross-Country and Panel Data Evidence," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 36(4), pages 603-19, October.
  14. Berggren, Niclas, 1999. " Economic Freedom and Equality: Friends or Foes?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 100(3-4), pages 203-23, September.
  15. James D. Gwartney & Robert A. Lawson & Randall G. Holcombe, 1999. "Economic Freedom and the Environment for Economic Growth," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 155(4), pages 643-, December.
  16. Benjamin Powell, 2003. "Economic Freedom and Growth: The Case of the Celtic Tiger," Cato Journal, Cato Journal, Cato Institute, vol. 22(3), pages 431-448, Winter.
  17. Russell S. Sobel, 1999. "Theory and Evidence on the Political Economy of the Minimum Wage," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(4), pages 761-785, August.
  18. Birdsall, Nancy & Ross, David & Sabot, Richard, 1995. "Inequality and Growth Reconsidered: Lessons from East Asia," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 9(3), pages 477-508, September.
  19. Jac C. Heckelman, 2005. "Proxies for Economic Freedom: A Critique of the Hanson Critique," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 72(2), pages 492–501, October.
  20. Scully, Gerald W, 2002. " Economic Freedom, Government Policy and the Trade-Off between Equity and Economic Growth," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 113(1-2), pages 77-96, October.
  21. Berggren, Niclas, 2003. "The Benefits of Economic Freedom: A Survey," Ratio Working Papers 4, The Ratio Institute.
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