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The Relationship between Inequality and Labor Market Performance: Evidence from U.S. States




A central issue facing society is the equity/growth trade-off. Conventional economic theory suggests enhanced incentives associated with income inequality should increase growth, but at the expense of "fairness." Recent theories challenge this notion by contending that inequality reduces human-capital investment and increases instability. Nevertheless, empirical evidence from U.S. states and across countries suggests an ambiguous relationship between inequality and income growth. Yet, at the state level, because inequality is related to many dis-amenities including crime, it can lead to lower utility and out-migration. The dis-amenities may produce compensating differentials that increase income. Given the inconsistencies regarding income, this study extends the literature by instead examining employment growth. Namely, long-run job growth is closely associated with net migration and any utility gains from migration. Thus, examining relative employment growth indicates whether inequality is associated with net-utility gains from a vibrant economy or net-losses from disamenities. The results suggest that state-level inequality is associated with greater long-run job growth, or enhanced incentives appear to be the dominant factor.

Suggested Citation

  • Mark D. Partridge, 2006. "The Relationship between Inequality and Labor Market Performance: Evidence from U.S. States," Journal of Labor Research, Transaction Publishers, vol. 27(1), pages 1-20, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:tra:jlabre:v:27:y:2006:i:1:p:1-20

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    1. repec:hur:ijarbs:v:7:y:2017:i:6:p:73-88 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Muhammad Shahbaz, 2010. "Income inequality-economic growth and non-linearity: a case of Pakistan," International Journal of Social Economics, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 37(8), pages 613-636, July.

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