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International Remittances and Income Inequality: An Empirical Investigation

Listed author(s):
  • Valerie Koechlin
  • Gianmarco Leon

Using several cross-sectional and panel data methodologies, this paper provides evidence of the existence of an inverted U-shaped relationship between international remittances and income inequality in a cross section of 78 countries. Our analysis supports previous theoretical work that describes how, at the first stages of migration history, there is an inequality-increasing effect of remittances on income inequality. Then, as the opportunity cost of migrating decreases due to this effect, remittances tend to lower inequality. We also show how education and the development of the financial sector can help countries reach faster the inequality-decreasing section of the curve.

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Article provided by Taylor and Francis Journals in its journal Journal of Economic Policy Reform.

Volume (Year): 10 (2007)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
Pages: 123-141

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Handle: RePEc:taf:jecprf:v:10:y:2007:i:2:p:123-141
DOI: 10.1080/17487870701346514
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  1. Arellano, Manuel & Bover, Olympia, 1995. "Another look at the instrumental variable estimation of error-components models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 29-51, July.
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  3. Freund, Caroline & Spatafora, Nikola, 2005. "Remittances : transaction costs, determinants, and informal flows," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3704, The World Bank.
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  6. David Mckenzie & Hillel Rapoport, 2004. "Network Effects and the Dynamics of Migration and Inequality: Theory and Evidence from Mexico," Working Papers 2004-3, Bar-Ilan University, Department of Economics.
  7. Alberto E. Chong, 2001. "Inequality, Democracy, and Persistence: Is There a Political Kuznets Curve?," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 6819, Inter-American Development Bank.
  8. Ma. Cecilia Calderón & Alberto Chong, 2006. "Does Foreign Aid Help Reduce Income Inequality?," Research Department Publications 4437, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
  9. Gabriel Gonzalez-Konig & Quentin Wodon, 2005. "Remittances and Inequality," Department of Economics and Finance Working Papers EC200506, Universidad de Guanajuato, Department of Economics and Finance.
  10. Milanovic, Branko & DEC, 1994. "Determinants of cross-country income inequality : an augmented Kuznets hypothesis," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1246, The World Bank.
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  12. Frédéric Docquier & Hillel Rapoport, 2003. "Remittances and Inequality: A Dynamic Migration Model," Working Papers 2003-05, Bar-Ilan University, Department of Economics.
  13. Taylor, J. Edward, 1992. "Remittances and inequality reconsidered: Direct, indirect, and intertemporal effects," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 14(2), pages 187-208, April.
  14. Manuel Arellano & Stephen Bond, 1991. "Some Tests of Specification for Panel Data: Monte Carlo Evidence and an Application to Employment Equations," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 58(2), pages 277-297.
  15. McKenzie, David J., 2005. "Paper walls are easier to tear down : passport costs and legal barriers to emigration," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3783, The World Bank.
  16. Barham, Bradford & Boucher, Stephen, 1998. "Migration, remittances, and inequality: estimating the net effects of migration on income distribution," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(2), pages 307-331, April.
  17. Stark, Oded & Taylor, J Edward & Yitzhaki, Shlomo, 1986. "Remittances and Inequality," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 96(383), pages 722-740, September.
  18. 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.
  19. Papanek, Gustav F. & Kyn, Oldrich, 1986. "The effect on income distribution of development, the growth rate and economic strategy," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(1), pages 55-65, September.
  20. Carrington, William J & Detragiache, Enrica & Vishwanath, Tara, 1996. "Migration with Endogenous Moving Costs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(4), pages 909-930, September.
  21. Kaivan Munshi, 2003. "Networks in the Modern Economy: Mexican Migrants in the U. S. Labor Market," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(2), pages 549-599.
  22. Chong, Alberto & Calderon, Cesar, 2000. "Institutional Quality and Income Distribution," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 48(4), pages 761-786, July.
  23. Ahluwalia, Montek S., 1976. "Inequality, poverty and development," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 307-342, December.
  24. Richard H. Adams, Jr. & John Page, 2003. "International migration, remittances, and poverty in developing countries," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3179, The World Bank.
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