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Can there be a Wave-Like Association between Economic Growth and Inequality? Theory and Lessons for East Asia from the Middle East

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  • Partha Gangopadhyay
  • Biswa N. Bhattacharyay

Abstract

High income growth in many countries in East Asia and the Middle East has been accompanied by increasing income inequality and widening gaps between rich and poor, and urban and rural. It is therefore it is important to examine the interrelationships between inequality and economic growth. This paper develops a simple model to establish that the change in income growth rate is a non-linear function of the income growth if policy makers try to influence economic growth. As a result, inequality and growth bear a non-linear relationship: for low values of inequality, economic growth rate is an inverted U-shaped \function of inequality. This function becomes U-shaped for values of inequality beyond a critical value of inequality. As a result, the relationship between growth and inequality can take the form of a wave. This simple theoretical model is a sufficient case to explain why previous empirical studies might have failed to reach a consensus between economic growth and inequality. The paper estimates the model empirically by using a set of panel data for ten Middle Eastern countries. The empirical analysis finds statistical support for a possible wave like relationship between growth and inequality, which can bear ominous messages for using equitable growth in fighting poverty. Rapid growing developing economies need to adopt appropriate policies for achieving an optimal mix of inequality and growth. Promoting inclusive growth together with good governance is crucial to ensure more equity and social stability.

Suggested Citation

  • Partha Gangopadhyay & Biswa N. Bhattacharyay, 2012. "Can there be a Wave-Like Association between Economic Growth and Inequality? Theory and Lessons for East Asia from the Middle East," CESifo Working Paper Series 3953, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3953
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Francois Bourguignon & Luiz A. Pereira da Silva, 2003. "The Impact of Economic Policies on Poverty and Income Distribution : Evaluation Techniques and Tools," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 15090, April.
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    3. Mattias Lundberg & Lyn Squire, 2003. "The simultaneous evolution of growth and inequality," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(487), pages 326-344, April.
    4. Roland Bénabou, 1996. "Inequality and Growth," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1996, Volume 11, pages 11-92 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    growth; inequality; poverty; East Asia and the Middle East;

    JEL classification:

    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • O41 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - One, Two, and Multisector Growth Models

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