IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

The market, competition, and equality

Listed author(s):
  • Peter Dietsch

    (Université de Montréal, Canada,

Registered author(s):

    How much inequality does market interaction generate? The answer to this question partly depends on the level of competition among economic agents. Yet, in their normative analysis of the market, theories of distributive justice focus on individual characteristics such as talents as determinants of income, and tend to ignore structural features such as competition. Economists, on the other hand, dispose of the conceptual tools to assess the distributive impact of competition, but their analysis is usually limited to allocative efficiency. Part I of the article distinguishes my argument from conventional perspectives on income inequality and redistribution. Whereas the latter propose either to redistribute income once the market interaction has taken place or to adjust the initial holdings of market participants, I focus on the distributive impact of the institutional structure of the market itself. Part II outlines the ways in which various forms of competition affect distribution. My objective here is descriptive in nature, but shows that a normative evaluation of the market has to take seriously the distributive impact of competition. This impact can be broken down into the analysis of three overlapping groups of economic agents, namely consumers, workers, and capital owners. Consumers potentially gain from competition in the form of lower prices, but these gains are only realized if competition does not put pressure on their work income at the same time. Unless competition squeezes profits unusually hard, capital owners tend to benefit from competition.

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Article provided by in its journal Politics, Philosophy & Economics.

    Volume (Year): 9 (2010)
    Issue (Month): 2 (May)
    Pages: 213-244

    in new window

    Handle: RePEc:sae:pophec:v:9:y:2010:i:2:p:213-244
    Contact details of provider:

    No references listed on IDEAS
    You can help add them by filling out this form.

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:sae:pophec:v:9:y:2010:i:2:p:213-244. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (SAGE Publications)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.