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Endogenous Inequality

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  • Kiminori Matsuyama

Abstract

Does the market economy exacerbate inequality across households? In a capitalistic society, do the rich maintain a high level of wealth at the expense of the poor? Or would an accumulation of the wealth by the rich eventually trickle down to the poor and pull the latter out of poverty? This paper presents a theoretical framework, in which one can address these questions in a systematic way. The model focuses on the role of the credit market, which determines the joint evolution of the distribution of wealth and the interest rate. A complete characterization of the steady states is provided. Under some configurations of the parameter values, the model predicts an endogenous and permanent separation of the population into the rich and the poor, where the rich maintains a high level of wealth partially due to the presence of the poor. Under others, the model predicts the Kuznets curve, i.e. the wealth eventually trickles down from the rich to the poor, eliminating inequality in the long run.

Suggested Citation

  • Kiminori Matsuyama, 2000. "Endogenous Inequality," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 67(4), pages 743-759.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:restud:v:67:y:2000:i:4:p:743-759.
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1111/1467-937X.00152
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    2. Philippe Aghion & Patrick Bolton, 1997. "A Theory of Trickle-Down Growth and Development," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 64(2), pages 151-172.
    3. Roland Bénabou, 1996. "Inequality and Growth," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1996, Volume 11, pages 11-92 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Thomas Piketty, 1997. "The Dynamics of the Wealth Distribution and the Interest Rate with Credit Rationing," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 64(2), pages 173-189.
    5. Bernanke, Ben & Gertler, Mark, 1989. "Agency Costs, Net Worth, and Business Fluctuations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(1), pages 14-31, March.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development

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