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How does inequality affect long-run growth?


  • Roxana Gutiérrez-Romero


This article shows that countries with higher historical levels of income inequality, dating back to the early 1800s, experienced lower rates of growth centuries after in terms of number of firms created, number of employees hired, firms’ output, value added and profit margin. To increase the understanding as the channels through which historical inequality deterred growth, the article exploits the differences across industries’ intensities in skilled labour, physical capital, dependence on external finance and written contracts across 28 sectors in 57 countries during the 1985–2010 period. It is shown that industries relatively more in need of external finance and contracts experienced lower firm creation growth in countries with higher levels of past inequality. Similarly, industries intensive in skilled labour and physical capital experienced lower rate of growth in the number of employees hired, firms’ output and real value in more unequal countries.

Suggested Citation

  • Roxana Gutiérrez-Romero, 2017. "How does inequality affect long-run growth?," Working Papers 84, Queen Mary, University of London, School of Business and Management, Centre for Globalisation Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:cgs:wpaper:84

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item


    Inequality; Entrepreneurship; panel study;

    JEL classification:

    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O47 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Empirical Studies of Economic Growth; Aggregate Productivity; Cross-Country Output Convergence
    • C5 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric Modeling

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