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Inequality, Well-being and Institutions in Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Jaideep Oberoi
  • Syed Ahsan

This paper focuses on the role of “institutions” in the fight against poverty and inequality. Our view of institutions encompasses formal rules designed by polity (including those in the legal and economics sphere such as rules of property rights, contracts and liabilities) as well as informal rules (usually labelled social capital) that have emerged over the history of one’s civilisation. The inclusion of health, nutrition, and literacy indicators in defining well-being (or, non-income poverty à la capability approach of Amartya Sen) allows a rich discussion of policy interventions. While both orientations as to the concepts of poverty, inequality and institutions are expounded on a priori reasoning, empirical analysis with LAC data prove rewarding. Quality of institutions (measured by a composite variable called institutional capital, IC) turns out to be a key factor explaining well-being. Further where the level of income is also important to the explanation, the quantitative role of the institutional factor dominates that of the income variable. Within IC, political stability (or lack of violence) appeared to provide the more precise estimates in every case. Consequently we argue that the foremost policy interventions ought to be in the areas of building both adequate formal institutions, as well as creating an enabling environment for the informal institutions (such as social capital) to flourish and find their own roots. The principal focus of the policy debate must centre on the mutual interaction of market as well as non-market institutions in reducing poverty broadly speaking

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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 846.

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Date of creation: 2003
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_846
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  1. Datt, Gaurav & Ravallion, Martin, 1996. "Why have some Indian states done better than others at reducing rural poverty?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1594, The World Bank.
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  4. Garcia-Penalosa, Cecilia & Aghion, Philippe & Caroli, Eve, 1999. "Inequality and Economic Growth: The Perspective of the New Growth Theories," Economics Papers from University Paris Dauphine 123456789/10091, Paris Dauphine University.
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  12. de Janvry, Alain & Sadoulet, Elisabeth, 2000. "Growth, Poverty, and Inequality in Latin America: A Causal Analysis, 1970-94," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 46(3), pages 267-87, September.
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  18. Kanbur, Ravi & Squire, Lyn, 1999. "The Evolution of Thinking About Poverty: Exploring the Interactions," Working Papers 127697, Cornell University, Department of Applied Economics and Management.
  19. Hjøllund, Lene & Paldam, Martin & Svendsen, Gert Tinggaard, 2001. "Social Capital in Russia and Denmark: A Comparative Study," Working Papers 01-13, University of Aarhus, Aarhus School of Business, Department of Economics.
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  22. Klasen, Stephan, 2000. "Measuring Poverty and Deprivation in South Africa," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 46(1), pages 33-58, March.
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