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Does income distribution matter for effective demand? Evidence from the United States

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  • Christopher Brown

Abstract

This article examines the influence of income distribution in the determination of effective demand in the US. A simple model is developed to simulate the effects of changing income inequality on the aggregate propensity to consume. The simulation results illustrate that income inequality has a substantial negative impact on consumption when household spending is assumed to be income-constrained. Econometric evidence is presented that rising private sector wage inequality had a dampening effect on the time path of consumption in the United States between 1978 and 2000. The methodology entails time series estimation of consumption specifications with a measure of income inequality (the Theil index) included among the explanatory variables. The argument is made that, ceteris paribus, rising income inequality creates a need for greater reliance on debt to sustain a given level of household spending.

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  • Christopher Brown, 2004. "Does income distribution matter for effective demand? Evidence from the United States," Review of Political Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 16(3), pages 291-307.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:revpoe:v:16:y:2004:i:3:p:291-307
    DOI: 10.1080/0953825042000225607
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    1. Jean-Marc Burniaux & Thai-Thanh Dang & Douglas Fore & Michael Förster & Marco Mira d'Ercole & Howard Oxley, 1998. "Income Distribution and Poverty in Selected OECD Countries," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 189, OECD Publishing.
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    3. Peter Gottschalk & Timothy M. Smeeding, 1997. "Cross-National Comparisons of Earnings and Income Inequality," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 35(2), pages 633-687, June.
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    2. Elisa Palagi & Mauro Napoletano & Andrea Roventini & Jean-Luc Gaffard, 2021. "An agent-based model of trickle-up growth and income inequality," LEM Papers Series 2021/23, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
    3. Daniel Detzer, 2017. "Financialisation, Debt and Inequality: Export-led Mercantilist and Debt-led Private Demand Boom Economies in a Stock-flow consistent Model," Working Papers 2016-03, Universita' di Cassino, Dipartimento di Economia e Giurisprudenza.
    4. Salvatore Morelli & Anthony Atkinson, 2015. "Inequality and crises revisited," Economia Politica: Journal of Analytical and Institutional Economics, Springer;Fondazione Edison, vol. 32(1), pages 31-51, April.
    5. Engelbert Stockhammer & Rafael Wildauer, 2016. "Debt-driven growth? Wealth, distribution and demand in OECD countries," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 40(6), pages 1609-1634.
    6. Detzer, Daniel, 2019. "Financialization made in Germany: A review," IPE Working Papers 122/2019, Berlin School of Economics and Law, Institute for International Political Economy (IPE).
    7. Jesus Crespo Cuaresma & Jozef Kubala & Kristina Petrikova, 2018. "Does income inequality affect aggregate consumption? Revisiting the evidence," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 55(2), pages 905-912, September.
    8. Ángeles Sánchez-Domínguez & Maria J. Ruiz Martos, 2016. "Europe 2020 Strategy Under the Scope of Life Satisfaction," ThE Papers 16/01, Department of Economic Theory and Economic History of the University of Granada..
    9. Barry Z. Cynamon & Steven M. Fazzari, 2016. "Inequality, the Great Recession and slow recovery," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 40(2), pages 373-399.
    10. Steven Pressman, 2014. "A Tax Reform That Falls Flat," Challenge, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 57(4), pages 82-102.
    11. Barry Z. Cynamon & Steven M. Fazzari, 2017. "Household Income, Demand, and Saving: Deriving Macro Data With Micro Data Concepts," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 63(1), pages 53-69, March.
    12. Steven Pressman, 2006. "The Decline of the Middle Class: An International Perspective," LIS Working papers 280, LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg.
    13. Heather Boushey & Christian E. Weller, 2006. "Inequality and Household Economic Hardship in the United States of America," Working Papers 18, United Nations, Department of Economics and Social Affairs.
    14. Detzer, Daniel, 2016. "Financialisation, debt and inequality: Scenarios based on a stock flow consistent model," IPE Working Papers 64/2016, Berlin School of Economics and Law, Institute for International Political Economy (IPE).
    15. Eckhard Hein, 2017. "Post-Keynesian macroeconomics since the mid 1990s: main developments," European Journal of Economics and Economic Policies: Intervention, Edward Elgar Publishing, vol. 14(2), pages 131-172, September.
    16. Gonzalo Paz Pardo & José Manuel Sánchez Santos, 2014. "Household Debt and Consumption Inequality: The Spanish Case," Economies, MDPI, vol. 2(3), pages 1-24, July.
    17. Angeles Sánchez & María J. Ruiz-Martos, 2018. "Europe 2020 Strategy and Citizens’ Life Satisfaction," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 19(8), pages 2315-2338, December.
    18. Barry Z. Cynamon & Steven M. Fazzari, 2013. "Inequality and Household Finance during the Consumer Age," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_752, Levy Economics Institute.
    19. Hager, Sandy Brian, 2013. "Public Debt, Ownership and Power: The Political Economy of Distribution and Redistribution," EconStor Theses, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, number 157991.
    20. Steven Pressman, 2014. "Keynes, family allowances, and Keynesian economic policy," Review of Keynesian Economics, Edward Elgar Publishing, vol. 2(4), pages 508-526, October.
    21. Steven Pressman, 2009. "Keynes, Family Allowances and Post Keynesian Anti-Poverty Policy," LIS Working papers 525, LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg.
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    24. Steven Pressman, 2013. "Justice and History: the big problem of Wilt Chamberlain," Economic Issues Journal Articles, Economic Issues, vol. 18(1), pages 1-16, March.

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