IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/h/nbr/nberch/11027.html
   My bibliography  Save this book chapter

Inequality and Growth

In: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1996, Volume 11

Author

Listed:
  • Roland Bénabou

Abstract

Using two unifying models and an empirical exercise, this paper present and extends the main theories linking income distribution and growth, as well as the relevant empirical evidence. The first model integrates the political economy and imperfect capital markets theories. It allows for explicit departures from perfect democracy and embodies the tradeoff between the growth costs and benefits of redistribution through taxes, land reform or public schooling: such policies simultaneously depress savings incentives and ease wealth constraints which impede investment by the poor. The second model is a growth version of the prisoner's dilemma which captures the essence of theories where sociopolitical conflict reduces the security of property rights thereby discouraging accumulation. The economy's growth rate is shown to fall with interest groups' rent-seeking abilities, as well as with the gap between rich and poor. It is not income inequality per se that matters, but inequality in the relative distribution of earnings and political power. For each of the three channels of political economy, capital markets and social conflict, the empirical evidence is surveyed and discussed in conjunction with theoretical analysis. Finally, the possibility of multiple steady-states leads me to to raise and take up a new empirical issue: are cross-country differences in inequality permanent, or gradually narrowing? Equivalently, is there conver- gence not only in first moments (GDP per capita), but convergence in distribution?
(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

Suggested Citation

  • Roland Bénabou, 1996. "Inequality and Growth," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1996, Volume 11, pages 11-92, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:11027
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.nber.org/chapters/c11027.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Galor, Oded & Tsiddon, Daniel, 1996. "Income Distribution and Growth: The Kuznets Hypothesis Revisited," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 63(250), pages 103-117, Suppl..
    2. Vincenzo Quadrini, 2000. "Entrepreneurship, Saving and Social Mobility," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 3(1), pages 1-40, January.
    3. Thomas Piketty, 1995. "Social Mobility and Redistributive Politics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(3), pages 551-584.
    4. Alesina, Alberto & Perotti, Roberto, 1996. "Income distribution, political instability, and investment," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(6), pages 1203-1228, June.
    5. Rosenzweig, Mark R & Wolpin, Kenneth I, 1993. "Credit Market Constraints, Consumption Smoothing, and the Accumulation of Durable Production Assets in Low-Income Countries: Investment in Bullocks in India," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(2), pages 223-244, April.
    6. Galor, Oded & Zang, Hyoungsoo, 1997. "Fertility, income distribution, and economic growth: Theory and cross-country evidence," Japan and the World Economy, Elsevier, vol. 9(2), pages 197-229, May.
    7. Benabou, Roland, 1996. "Heterogeneity, Stratification, and Growth: Macroeconomic Implications of Community Structure and School Finance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 584-609, June.
    8. Svensson, Jakob, 1998. "Investment, property rights and political instability: Theory and evidence," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(7), pages 1317-1341, July.
    9. Durlauf, Steven N & Johnson, Paul A, 1995. "Multiple Regimes and Cross-Country Growth Behaviour," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 10(4), pages 365-384, Oct.-Dec..
    10. Thomas J. Holmes & James A. Schmitz, 1995. "Resistance to new technology and trade between areas," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, vol. 19(Win), pages 2-17.
    11. Alberto Alesina & Dani Rodrik, 1994. "Distributive Politics and Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(2), pages 465-490.
    12. Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 1992. "Transfers," NBER Working Papers 4186, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Grossman, Herschel I, 1994. "Production, Appropriation, and Land Reform," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 705-712, June.
    14. Barro, Robert J, 1990. "Government Spending in a Simple Model of Endogenous Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(5), pages 103-126, October.
    15. S. Rao Aiyagari, 1994. "Uninsured Idiosyncratic Risk and Aggregate Saving," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(3), pages 659-684.
    16. Keefer, Philip & Knack, Stephen, 2002. "Polarization, Politics and Property Rights: Links between Inequality and Growth," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 111(1-2), pages 127-154, March.
    17. John McCallum & André Blais, 1987. "Government, special interest groups, and economic growth," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 54(1), pages 3-18, January.
    18. Tornell, Aaron, 1997. "Economic Growth and Decline with Endogenous Property Rights," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 2(3), pages 219-250, September.
    19. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1992. "Growth, distribution and politics," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 36(2-3), pages 593-602, April.
    20. Deininger, K & Squire, L, 1996. "Measuring Income Inequality : A New Data-Base," Papers 537, Harvard - Institute for International Development.
    21. Alesina, Alberto & Drazen, Allan, 1991. "Why Are Stabilizations Delayed?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1170-1188, December.
    22. Stephen Morris & Stephen Coate, 1999. "Policy Persistence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(5), pages 1327-1336, December.
    23. Oded Galor & Joseph Zeira, 1993. "Income Distribution and Macroeconomics," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 60(1), pages 35-52.
    24. Thomas Piketty, 1997. "The Dynamics of the Wealth Distribution and the Interest Rate with Credit Rationing," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 64(2), pages 173-189.
    25. Ríos Rull, José Víctor & Díaz-Giménez, Javier & Castañeda, Ana, 1995. "Unemployment spells and income distribution dynamics," UC3M Working papers. Economics 3902, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Departamento de Economía.
    26. Benhabib, Jess & Rustichini, Aldo, 1996. "Social Conflict and Growth," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 125-142, March.
    27. Bernanke, Ben & Gertler, Mark, 1989. "Agency Costs, Net Worth, and Business Fluctuations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(1), pages 14-31, March.
    28. Acemoglu, Daron, 1995. "Reward structures and the allocation of talent," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 17-33, January.
    29. Shantayanan Devarajan & Vinaya Swaroop & Heng-fu Zou, 1993. "What do governments buy?," CEMA Working Papers 513, China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics.
    30. Psacharopoulos, George, 1994. "Returns to investment in education: A global update," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 22(9), pages 1325-1343, September.
    31. Lindert, Peter H., 1996. "What Limits Social Spending?," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 1-34, January.
    32. A. S. Pinto Barbosa & Boyan Jovanovic & Mark M. Spiegel, 1997. "Inequality and Stability," Annals of Economics and Statistics, GENES, issue 48, pages 15-40.
    33. Mark Huggett, 1995. "The one-sector growth model with idiosyncratic shocks," Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics 105, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    34. Kotlikoff, Laurence J & Summers, Lawrence H, 1981. "The Role of Intergenerational Transfers in Aggregate Capital Accumulation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(4), pages 706-732, August.
    35. Kevin M. Murphy & Andrei Shleifer & Robert Vishny, 1989. "Income Distribution, Market Size, and Industrialization," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 104(3), pages 537-564.
    36. Krusell, Per & Quadrini, Vincenzo & Rios-Rull, Jose-Victor, 1996. "Are consumption taxes really better than income taxes?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 475-503, June.
    37. Grossman, Herschel I & Kim, Minseong, 1996. "Predation and Accumulation," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 1(3), pages 333-350, September.
    38. Ayse Imrohoroglu & Selahattin Imrohoroglu & Douglas H. Joines, 1994. "The effect of tax-favored retirement accounts on capital accumulation and welfare," Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics 92, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    39. Roland Bénabou, 1996. "Equity and Efficiency in Human Capital Investment: The Local Connection," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 63(2), pages 237-264.
    40. Becker, Gary S & Tomes, Nigel, 1979. "An Equilibrium Theory of the Distribution of Income and Intergenerational Mobility," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(6), pages 1153-1189, December.
    41. Perotti, Roberto, 1996. "Growth, Income Distribution, and Democracy: What the Data Say," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 1(2), pages 149-187, June.
    42. Grossman, Herschel I., 1995. "Robin hood and the redistribution of property income," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 11(3), pages 399-410, September.
    43. Alesina, Alberto & Özler, Sule & Roubini, Nouriel & Swagel, Phillip, 1996. "Political Instability and Economic Growth," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 1(2), pages 189-211, June.
    44. Meltzer, Allan H & Richard, Scott F, 1981. "A Rational Theory of the Size of Government," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 914-927, October.
    45. Krusell, Per & Quadrini, Vincenzo & Rios-Rull, Jose-Victor, 1997. "Politico-economic equilibrium and economic growth," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 243-272, January.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Christophe Ehrhart, 2009. "The effects of inequality on growth: a survey of the theoretical and empirical literature," Working Papers 107, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.
    2. Ugo Panizza, 1999. "Desigualdad del ingreso y crecimiento económico: elementos de juicio de datos de USA," Research Department Publications 4179, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
    3. Panizza, Ugo, 2002. "Income Inequality and Economic Growth: Evidence from American Data," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 7(1), pages 25-41, March.
    4. Bertola, Giuseppe, 2000. "Macroeconomics of distribution and growth," Handbook of Income Distribution, in: A.B. Atkinson & F. Bourguignon (ed.), Handbook of Income Distribution, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 9, pages 477-540, Elsevier.
    5. Christiane Clemens & Maik Heinemann, 2005. "Distributional Conflict, Political Cycles And Growth," Manchester School, University of Manchester, vol. 73(4), pages 500-521, July.
    6. Marrero, Gustavo A. & Rodríguez, Juan G., 2013. "Inequality of opportunity and growth," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 107-122.
    7. Roland Benabou, 1996. "Unequal Societies," NBER Working Papers 5583, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Paul J. ZAK, 2002. "Institutions, Property Rights and Growth," Discussion Papers (REL - Recherches Economiques de Louvain) 2002014, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
    9. Paul J. Zak, 2002. "Institutions, Property Rights, and Growth," Recherches économiques de Louvain, De Boeck Université, vol. 68(1), pages 55-73.
    10. Keefer, Philip & Knack, Stephen, 2002. "Polarization, Politics and Property Rights: Links between Inequality and Growth," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 111(1-2), pages 127-154, March.
    11. Fabrizio Carmignani, 2001. "Theory and Evidence on the Political Economy of Growth," Working Papers 33, University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics, revised Jan 2001.
    12. Martin Baur, 2010. "Politics and Income Distribution," Chapters, in: Neri Salvadori (ed.), Institutional and Social Dynamics of Growth and Distribution, chapter 3, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    13. Christiane Clemens & Maik Heinemann, 2005. "Endogenous Redistributive Cycles An Overlapping Generations Approach to Social Conflict and Cyclical Growth," Working Paper Series in Economics 5, University of Lüneburg, Institute of Economics.
    14. Verónica Amarante & Gioia de Melo, 2004. "Crecimiento económico y desigualdad: una revisión bibliográfica," Documentos de Trabajo (working papers) 04-02, Instituto de Economia - IECON.
    15. Loayza, Norman & Rigolini, Jamele & Llorente, Gonzalo, 2012. "Do middle classes bring about institutional reforms?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 116(3), pages 440-444.
    16. Andrew Berg & Jonathan D. Ostry & Charalambos G. Tsangarides & Yorbol Yakhshilikov, 2018. "Redistribution, inequality, and growth: new evidence," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 23(3), pages 259-305, September.
    17. Grossmann, Volker, 2008. "Risky human capital investment, income distribution, and macroeconomic dynamics," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 19-42, March.
    18. Oded, Galor, 2011. "Inequality, Human Capital Formation, and the Process of Development," Handbook of the Economics of Education, in: Erik Hanushek & Stephen Machin & Ludger Woessmann (ed.), Handbook of the Economics of Education, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 0, pages 441-493, Elsevier.
    19. Aysan, Ahmet Faruk, 2005. "The Role of Efficiency of Redistributive Institutions on Redistribution: An Empirical Assessment," MPRA Paper 17773, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    20. Klaus Schmidt-Hebbel & José-Carlos Tello, 2014. "The Political Economy of Growth, Inequality, the Size and Composition of Government Spending," Working Papers 2014-19, Peruvian Economic Association.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:11027. 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: (). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    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 CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc 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 RePEc Author Service 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.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.