IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/cam/camdae/1111.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Homogeneous middles vs. heterogeneous tails, and the end of the ‘Inverted-U’: the share of the rich is what it's all about

Author

Listed:
  • Palma, J.G.

Abstract

This paper examines the current global scene of within-nations distributional disparities. There are three main conclusions: first, that the statistical evidence for the ‘upwards’ side of the “Inverted-U” between inequality and income per capita seems to have vanished, as many lowand low-middle income countries now have a distribution of income similar to that of most middle-income countries (other than those of Latin America and Southern Africa). That is, half of Sub-Saharan Africa and many countries in Asian, including India, China and Vietnam, now have an income distribution similar to that found in North Africa, the Caribbean and the secondtier NICs. And this level is also similar to that of half of the first-tier NICs, the Mediterranean EU and the Anglophone OECD (excluding the US). As a result, about 80% of the world population now live in countries with a Gini around 40. So, the pre-globalisation statistical evidence for the hypothesis that posits that (for whatever reason) from a distributional point of view “things have to get worse before being able to get better” is rapidly drawing to a close. Second, that among middle-income countries it is only Latin America and Southern Africa that are living in an inequality limbo of their own. And third, that within an overall trend of rising inequality, there are two opposite distributional forces at work. One is ‘centrifugal’, and takes place at the two tails of the distribution—leading to an increased diversity across country in the shares appropriated by the top 10 percent and bottom forty percent. The other is ‘centripetal’, and takes place in the middle—leading to a remarkable uniformity across countries in the share of income going to the half of the population located between deciles 5 to 9. Therefore, globalisation is creating a situation where virtually all the within-nation distributional differences are the result of what the very rich and the poor are able to appropriate. In turn, it seems that regardless of the political settlement at work current distributional outcomes are characterised by half of the population (located in the middle and upper-middle of the distribution) acquiring strong ‘property rights’ over half of the national income. The other half, however, seems to be increasingly up for grabs between the very rich and the poor. And if what really matters in distributional terms is the income-share of the rich—because the rest ‘follows’ (middle classes able to defend their shares, and workers with ever more precarious jobs in ever more ‘flexible’ labour markets)—everybody attempting to understand the within-nations disparity of inequality (including myself) should always be reminded of this basic distributional fact following the example of Clinton’s campaign strategist: by sticking a note in our notice boards saying “It is the share of the rich, stupid”.

Suggested Citation

  • Palma, J.G., 2011. "Homogeneous middles vs. heterogeneous tails, and the end of the ‘Inverted-U’: the share of the rich is what it's all about," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1111, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
  • Handle: RePEc:cam:camdae:1111
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.econ.cam.ac.uk/research-files/repec/cam/pdf/cwpe1111.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Moreno-Brid, Juan Carlos & Ros, Jaime, 2009. "Development and Growth in the Mexican Economy: An Historical Perspective," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195371161.
    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. José Gabriel Palma, 2011. "Forum 2011," Development and Change, International Institute of Social Studies, vol. 42(1), pages 87-153, January.
    2. James W. Bono & David H. Wolpert, 2009. "Statistical prediction of the outcome of a noncooperative game," Working Papers 2009-20, American University, Department of Economics.
    3. Carlos A. Ibarra & Robert A. Blecker, 2016. "Structural change, the real exchange rate and the balance of payments in Mexico, 1960–2012," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 40(2), pages 507-539.
    4. Puyana, Alicia, 2012. "Mexican Agriculture and NAFTA: A 20-Year Balance Sheet," Review of Agrarian Studies, Foundation for Agrarian Studies, vol. 2(1), July.
    5. Pablo Mejía-Reyes & Reyna Vergara-González, 2017. "Are More Severe Recessions Followed by Stronger Early Expansions of Employment in the Mexican States?," The Review of Regional Studies, Southern Regional Science Association, vol. 47(3), pages 243-269, Fall.
    6. Pastor, Manuel & Wise, Carol, 2015. "Good-Bye financial crash, hello financial eclecticism: Latin American responses to the 2008–09 global financial crisis," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 200-217.
    7. Jano-Ito, Marco A. & Crawford-Brown, Douglas, 2016. "Socio-technical analysis of the electricity sector of Mexico: Its historical evolution and implications for a transition towards low-carbon development," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 567-590.
    8. Carlos A. Ibarra, 2013. "Capital Flows and Private Investment in Mexico," Economía Mexicana NUEVA ÉPOCA, CIDE, División de Economía, vol. 0(3, Cierre), pages 65-99.
    9. Jorge Basave Kunhardt, 2012. "Flujos de IED mexicana hacia Europa y presencia de grandes multinacionales mexicanas en España. Evidencia empírica y reflexiones teóricas," Working Papers del Instituto Complutense de Estudios Internacionales 1204, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Instituto Complutense de Estudios Internacionales.
    10. Skott, Peter & Gómez-Ramírez, Leopoldo, 2018. "Credit constraints and economic growth in a dual economy," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 64-76.
    11. Becker, Julia-Maria, 2014. "The Impact of the Crisis of 2008 on Women`s and Men`s Income in Mexico," MPRA Paper 57964, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    12. Padilla-Pérez, Ramón & Villarreal, Francisco G., 2014. "An unfinished business: Economic liberalization and structural change in Mexico," MPRA Paper 57573, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    13. Carlos A. Ibarra, 2011. "Capital flows, real exchange rate, and growth constraints in Mexico," International Review of Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 25(6), pages 653-668, November.
    14. Pablo Mejia Reyes & Miguel Angel Diaz Carreño, 2015. "Effects of the Great Recession on state output in Mexico," EconoQuantum, Revista de Economia y Negocios, Universidad de Guadalajara, Centro Universitario de Ciencias Economico Administrativas, Departamento de Metodos Cuantitativos y Maestria en Economia., vol. 12(2), pages 25-45, Julio-Dic.
    15. Ibarra, Carlos A., 2011. "Import elasticities and the external constraint in Mexico," Economic Systems, Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 363-377, September.
    16. Joshua Wassink, 2018. "Is Local Social Development Associated with Workforce Composition? A Municipal Analysis of Mexico, 1990–2015," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer;Southern Demographic Association (SDA), vol. 37(6), pages 941-966, December.
    17. Pablo Mejia-Reyes & Miguel Angel Diaz-Carreno, 2015. "Effects of the Great Recession on state output in Mexico," EconoQuantum, Revista de Economia y Finanzas, Universidad de Guadalajara, Centro Universitario de Ciencias Economico Administrativas, Departamento de Metodos Cuantitativos y Maestria en Economia., vol. 12(2), pages 25-45, Julio-Dic.
    18. Blecker, Robert A. & Ibarra, Carlos A., 2013. "Trade liberalization and the balance of payments constraint with intermediate imports: The case of Mexico revisited," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 25(C), pages 33-47.
    19. de Souza, João Paulo A. & Gómez-Ramírez, Leopoldo, 2018. "The paradox of Mexico's export boom without growth: A demand-side explanation," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 96-113.
    20. Pablo Mejía‐Reyes & Víctor Hugo Torres‐Preciado, 2020. "Determinants of Manufacturing Employment in the Mexican States, 2004–2017," Regional Science Policy & Practice, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 12(2), pages 303-318, April.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Inequality; poverty; income polarisation; Latin America; South Africa; US;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • N30 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • O50 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - General

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Lists

    This item is featured on the following reading lists, Wikipedia, or ReplicationWiki pages:
    1. Kuznetsova krivulja in Wikipedia Slovenian

    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:cam:camdae:1111. 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://www.econ.cam.ac.uk/ .

    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 bibliographic 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.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Jake Dyer (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://www.econ.cam.ac.uk/ .

    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.