IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Spatial Inequality and Development - Is there an Inverted-U Relationship?

  • Christian Lessmann

This paper studies the hypothesis of an inverted-U-shaped relationship between spatial inequality and economic development. The theory of Kuznets (1955) and Williamson (1965) suggests that (spatial) inequality first increases in the process of development, then peaks, and then decreases. To test this hypothesis I have used a unique panel data set of spatial inequalities in 55 countries at different stages of economic development, covering the period 1980-2009. Parametric and semiparametric regressions are carried out using cross-section and (unbalanced) panel data. The results provide strong support for the existence of an inverted U, but importantly I also find spatial inequalities to increase again at very high levels of economic development. Although many factors may be contributing to this rise, one explanation rests on the process of tertiarization, i.e., the structural shift from industrial production towards a service base in the highest-developed economies.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 3622.

in new window

Date of creation: 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3622
Contact details of provider: Postal: Poschingerstrasse 5, 81679 Munich
Phone: +49 (89) 9224-0
Fax: +49 (89) 985369
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Leßmann, Christian, 2014. "Regional Inequality and Internal Conflict," Annual Conference 2014 (Hamburg): Evidence-based Economic Policy 100398, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
  2. Alesina, Alberto F & Rodrik, Dani, 1991. "Distributive Politics and Economic Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 565, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Christian Lessmann, 2012. "Regional inequality and decentralization – an empirical analysis," Working Papers 2012/20, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).
  4. Barro, Robert J, 2000. " Inequality and Growth in a Panel of Countries," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 5(1), pages 5-32, March.
  5. Hansen, Nico & Kessler, Anke, 2004. "Interregional Redistribution and Mobility in Federations: A Positive Approach," CEPR Discussion Papers 4576, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Kanbur, Ravi & Venables, Anthony J., 2005. "Rising Spatial Disparities and Development," Working Paper Series PB3/2005, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  7. Krugman, Paul & Elizondo, Raul Livas, 1996. "Trade policy and the Third World metropolis," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(1), pages 137-150, April.
  8. Nicola Gennaioli & Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez De Silanes & Andrei Shleifer, 2014. "Growth in regions," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 19(3), pages 259-309, September.
    • Nicola Gennaioli & Rafael LaPorta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer, . "Growth in Regions," Working Paper 73436, Harvard University OpenScholar.
    • Nicola Gennaioli & Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez de Silanes & Andrei Shleifer, 2013. "Growth in Regions," NBER Working Papers 18937, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Mills, Edwin S & Ferranti, David M, 1971. "Market Choices and Optimum City Size," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 61(2), pages 340-45, May.
  10. Alesina, Alberto, et al, 2003. " Fractionalization," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 8(2), pages 155-94, June.
  11. Roberto Ezcurra & Andrés Rodríguez-Pose, 2009. "Does Decentralization Matter for Regional Disparities? A Cross-Country Analysis," SERC Discussion Papers 0025, Spatial Economics Research Centre, LSE.
  12. repec:oup:qjecon:v:109:y:1994:i:2:p:465-90 is not listed on IDEAS
  13. Kanbur, Ravi & Zhang, Xiaobo, 2004. "Fifty Years of Regional Inequality in China: A Journey through Central Planning, Reform, and Openness," Working Paper Series UNU-WIDER Research Paper , World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  14. Desbordes, Rodolphe & Verardi, Vincenzo, 2012. "Refitting the Kuznets curve," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 116(2), pages 258-261.
  15. Badi H. Baltagi & Dong Li, . "Series Estimation of Partially Linear Panel Data Models with Fixed Effects," Working Papers 0109, East Carolina University, Department of Economics.
  16. Yatchew, A., 1997. "An elementary estimator of the partial linear model," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 57(2), pages 135-143, December.
  17. Ravi Kanbur & Anthony J. Venables & Guanghua Wan, 2005. "Introduction to the Special Issue: Spatial Inequality and Development in Asia," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 9(1), pages 1-4, 02.
  18. Christian Lessmann, 2009. "Fiscal decentralization and regional disparity: evidence from cross-section and panel data," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 41(10), pages 2455-2473, October.
  19. Kailei Wei & Shujie Yao & Aying Liu, 2009. "Foreign Direct Investment and Regional Inequality in China," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 13(4), pages 778-791, November.
  20. Lessmann, Christian, 2013. "Foreign direct investment and regional inequality: A panel data analysis," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 24(C), pages 129-149.
  21. Tony Venables, 2003. "Spatial disparities in developing countries: cities, regions and international trade," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 2038, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  22. Ravallion, Martin, 2001. "Growth, inequality, and poverty : looking beyond averages," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2558, The World Bank.
  23. World Bank, 2011. "World Development Indicators 2011," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 2315.
  24. Yemtsov, Ruslan, 2003. "Quo Vadis? Inequality and Poverty Dynamics across Russian Regions," Working Paper Series UNU-WIDER Research Paper , World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  25. Jian, T & Sachs, J-D & Warner, A-M, 1995. "Trends in Regional Inequality in China," Papers 518, Harvard - Institute for International Development.
  26. Chen, Jian & Fleisher, Belton M., 1996. "Regional Income Inequality and Economic Growth in China," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 141-164, April.
  27. Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 1994. "Regional cohesion: Evidence and theories of regional growth and convergence," Economics Working Papers 104, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  28. Zeng, Dao-Zhi & Zhao, Laixun, 2010. "Globalization, interregional and international inequalities," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(3), pages 352-361, May.
  29. Charles Engel & John H. Rogers, 1995. "How wide is the border?," Research Working Paper 95-09, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
  30. Nicola Gennaioli & Rafael LaPorta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer, . "Human Capital and Regional Development," Working Paper 19522, Harvard University OpenScholar.
  31. Rodriguez-Pose, Andres, 2010. "Trade and regional inequality," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5347, The World Bank.
  32. Sylvie Lambert & Martin Ravallion & Dominique van de Walle, 2010. "A Micro-Decomposition Analysis of Aggregate Human Development Outcomes," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 72(2), pages 119-145, 04.
  33. Durlauf, Steven N., 2001. "Manifesto for a growth econometrics," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 100(1), pages 65-69, January.
  34. Vincenzo Verardi & Nicolas Debarsy, 2012. "Robinson's square root of N consistent semiparametric regression estimator in Stata," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 12(4), pages 726-735, December.
  35. Amos, Orley Jr., 1988. "Unbalanced regional growth and regional income inequality in the latter stages of development," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(4), pages 549-566, November.
  36. Barrios, Salvador & Strobl, Eric, 2009. "The dynamics of regional inequalities," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(5), pages 575-591, September.
  37. John DiNardo & Justin L. Tobias, 2001. "Nonparametric Density and Regression Estimation," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(4), pages 11-28, Fall.
  38. Araujo, M. Caridad & Ferreira, Francisco H.G. & Lanjouw, Peter & Özler, Berk, 2008. "Local inequality and project choice: Theory and evidence from Ecuador," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(5-6), pages 1022-1046, June.
  39. Easterly, William, 2000. "the middle class consensus and economic development," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2346, The World Bank.
  40. Rodriguez-Pose, Andres & Gill, Nicholas, 2006. "How does trade affect regional disparities?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 34(7), pages 1201-1222, July.
  41. Michael Lokshin, 2006. "Difference-based semiparametric estimation of partial linear regression models," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 6(3), pages 377-383, September.
  42. Christa Deiwiks & Lars-Erik Cederman & Kristian Skrede Gleditsch, 2012. "Inequality and conflict in federations," Journal of Peace Research, Peace Research Institute Oslo, vol. 49(2), pages 289-304, March.
  43. Elbers, Chris & Lanjouw, Peter & Mistiaen, Johan & Ozler, Berk & Simler, Kenneth, 2003. "Are Neighbours Equal? Estimating Local Inequality in Three Developing Countries," Working Paper Series UNU-WIDER Research Paper , World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  44. Robert E. Lucas, 2000. "Some Macroeconomics for the 21st Century," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(1), pages 159-168, Winter.
  45. Mehran, Farhad, 1976. "Linear Measures of Income Inequality," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 44(4), pages 805-09, July.
  46. List, John A & Gallet, Craig A, 1999. "The Kuznets Curve: What Happens after the Inverted-U?," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 3(2), pages 200-206, June.
  47. Sen, Amartya, 1973. "On Economic Inequality," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198281931, July.
  48. Adonis Yatchew, 1998. "Nonparametric Regression Techniques in Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(2), pages 669-721, June.
  49. Robin W. Boadway & Frank R. Flatters, 1982. "Efficiency and Equalization Payments in a Federal System of Government: A Synthesis and Extension of Recent Results," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 15(4), pages 613-33, November.
  50. Frances Stewart, 2000. "Crisis Prevention: Tackling Horizontal Inequalities," Oxford Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 28(3), pages 245-262.
  51. Francois Libois & Vincenzo Verardi, 2013. "Semiparametric fixed-effects estimator," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 13(2), pages 329-336, June.
  52. Marinella Terrasi, 1999. "Convergence and divergence across Italian regions," The Annals of Regional Science, Springer, vol. 33(4), pages 491-510.
  53. Fan, C Cindy & Casetti, Emilio, 1994. "The Spatial and Temporal Dynamics of U.S. Regional Income Inequality, 1950-1989," The Annals of Regional Science, Springer, vol. 28(2), pages 177-96.
  54. Robinson, Peter M, 1988. "Root- N-Consistent Semiparametric Regression," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(4), pages 931-54, July.
  55. repec:oup:qjecon:v:110:y:1995:i:1:p:195-227 is not listed on IDEAS
  56. Ravi Kanbur & Tony Venables, 2005. "Introduction: Spatial inequality and development," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 5(1), pages 1-2, January.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3622. 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: (Julio Saavedra)

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 references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link 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 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.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.