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Mass Consumption, Exclusion and Unemployment

  • Foellmi, Reto
  • Zweimüller, Josef

We introduce non-homothetic preferences into a general equilibrium model of monopolistic competition and explore the impact of income inequality on the medium-run macroeconomic equilibrium. We find that (i) a sufficiently high extent of inequality divides the economy into mass consumption sectors (where firms charge low prices and hire many workers) and exclusive sectors (where firms charge high prices and hire few workers). (ii) High inequality may lead to a situation of underemployment and that underemployment could be "Keynesian" in the sense that it cannot be cured by downward-flexible real wages. (iii) A redistribution of income from rich to poor (by means of progressive taxation) leads to higher employment and such a redistribution is Pareto-improving. (iv) An exogenous increase in (minimum) real wages have a cost effect (that lets firms reduce their employment) and a purchasing power effect (that creates an incentive for mass production and raises aggregate employment) with ambiguous net effects. (v) The economy may feature multiple equilibria where full-employment and unemployment equilibria co-exist.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 5824.

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Date of creation: Sep 2006
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:5824
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  1. Devashish Mitra & Vitor Trindade, 2005. "Inequality and trade," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 38(4), pages 1253-1271, November.
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  13. Silvestre, Joaquim, 1990. "There May Be Unemployment When the Labour Market Is Competitive and the Output Market Is Not," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(402), pages 899-913, September.
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