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Finance and Income Inequality: What Do the Data Tell Us?

  • Georg R. G. Clarke

    ()

    (World Bank)

  • Lixin Colin Xu

    ()

    (World Bank)

  • Heng-fu Zou

    ()

    (World Bank)

Although there are distinct conjectures about the relationship between finance and income inequality, little empirical research compares their explanatory power. We examine the relationship between finance and income inequality for 83 countries between 1960 and 1995. Because financial development might be endogenous, we use instruments from the literature on law, finance, and growth to control for this. Our results suggest that, in the long run, inequality is less when financial development is greater, consistent with Galor and Zeira (1993) and Banerjee and Newman (1993). Although the results also suggest that inequality might increase as financial sector development increases at very low levels of financial sector development, as suggested by Greenwood and Jovanovic (1990), this result is not robust. We reject the hypothesis that financial development benefits only the rich. Our results thus suggest that in addition to improving growth, financial development also reduces inequality.

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Article provided by Southern Economic Association in its journal Southern Economic Journal.

Volume (Year): 72 (2006)
Issue (Month): 3 (January)
Pages: 578-596

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Handle: RePEc:sej:ancoec:v:72:3:y:2006:p:578-596
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.southerneconomic.org/
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  1. Greenwood, J. & Jovanovic, B., 1990. "Financial Development, Growth, And The Distribution Of Income," University of Western Ontario, The Centre for the Study of International Economic Relations Working Papers 9002, University of Western Ontario, The Centre for the Study of International Economic Relations.
  2. RAFAEL LaPORTA & FLORENCIO LOPEZ-de-SILANES & ANDREI SHLEIFER & ROBERT W. VISHNY, . "Legal Determinants of External Finance,"," CRSP working papers 324, Center for Research in Security Prices, Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago.
  3. Thorsten Beck & Asli Demirgüç-Kunt & Ross Levine, 2001. "Legal Theories of Financial Development," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 17(4), pages 483-501.
  4. Zvi Griliches & Jerry A. Hausman, 1984. "Errors in Variables in Panel Data," NBER Technical Working Papers 0037, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Rousseau, P. L. & Wachtel, P., 2000. "Equity markets and growth: Cross-country evidence on timing and outcomes, 1980-1995," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 24(12), pages 1933-1957, December.
  6. Li, Hongyi & Squire, Lyn & Zou, Heng-fu, 1998. "Explaining International and Intertemporal Variations in Income Inequality," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 108(446), pages 26-43, January.
  7. Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silane & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1996. "Law and Finance," NBER Working Papers 5661, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. repec:ner:tilbur:urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-3125516 is not listed on IDEAS
  9. King, Robert G. & Levine, Ross, 1993. "Finance, entrepreneurship and growth: Theory and evidence," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 513-542, December.
  10. Hongyi Li & Lixin Colin Xu & Heng-fu Zou, 2000. "Corruption, Income Distribution, and Growth," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 12(2), pages 155-182, 07.
  11. Levine, Ross, 1996. "Financial development and economic growth : views and agenda," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1678, The World Bank.
  12. Beck, Thorsten & Levine, Ross & Loayza, Norman, 1999. "Finance and the sources of growth," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2057, The World Bank.
  13. 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 274-98, April.
  14. Levine, Ross & Zervos, Sara, 1998. "Stock Markets, Banks, and Economic Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(3), pages 537-58, June.
  15. Easterly, William & Fischer, Stanley, 2001. "Inflation and the Poor," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 33(2), pages 160-78, May.
  16. Ross Levine & Norman Loayza & Thorsten Beck, 2002. "Financial Intermediation and Growth: Causality and Causes," Central Banking, Analysis, and Economic Policies Book Series, in: Leonardo Hernández & Klaus Schmidt-Hebbel & Norman Loayza (Series Editor) & Klaus Schmidt-Hebbel (Se (ed.), Banking, Financial Integration, and International Crises, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 2, pages 031-084 Central Bank of Chile.
  17. repec:ner:tilbur:urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-3125520 is not listed on IDEAS
  18. Patrick Royston, 2004. "Multiple imputation of missing values," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 4(3), pages 227-241, September.
  19. Galor, Oded & Zeira, Joseph, 1993. "Income Distribution and Macroeconomics," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(1), pages 35-52, January.
  20. Adrian Mander & David Clayton, 2000. "Hotdeck imputation," Stata Technical Bulletin, StataCorp LP, vol. 9(51).
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  22. Mattias Lundberg & Lyn Squire, 2003. "The simultaneous evolution of growth and inequality," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(487), pages 326-344, 04.
  23. Levine, Ross, 1999. "Law, Finance, and Economic Growth," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 8(1-2), pages 8-35, January.
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