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Inequality and Group Participation: Theory and Evidence from Rural Tanzania

  • Eliana La Ferrara

    (Bocconi University; IGIER)

This paper investigates the determinants of group membership, and in particular the effect of income inequality on individual incentives to join economic groups. Drawing on a simple model, we show that an increase in inequality has an ambiguous e¤ect and that the type of access rule (open versus restricted access) is key in determining what income categories are represented in the group. Furthermore, the shape of the income distribution can be crucial to determine whether increased inequality leads to more or less group participation. Using survey data from rural Tanzania we find that inequality at the village level has a negative impact on the likelihood that the respondents are members of any group. This e¤ect is particularly significant for relatively wealthier people, both when relative wealth is ‘objectively’ measured, and when it is ‘subjectively’ defined. However, when we disaggregate groups by type of access rule, we find that inequality can have a positive impact on participation, depending on the shape of the income distribution. Finally, we assess the impact of inequality on various dimensions of group functioning.

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File URL: http://www.dagliano.unimi.it/media/WP2000_138.pdf
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Paper provided by Centro Studi Luca d\'Agliano, University of Milano in its series Development Working Papers with number 138.

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Date of creation: 01 Jun 2000
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Handle: RePEc:csl:devewp:138
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  1. Alberto Alesina & Eliana La Ferrara, 1999. "Participation in Heterogeneous Communities," NBER Working Papers 7155, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Isham, Jonathan & Narayan, Deepa & Pritchett, Lant, 1995. "Does Participation Improve Performance? Establishing Causality with Subjective Data," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 9(2), pages 175-200, May.
  3. Denice DiPasquale & Edward L. Glaeser, 1997. "Incentives and Social Capital: Are Homeowners Better Citizens?," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1815, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  4. Kevin Roberts, 1999. "Dynamic voting in clubs," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19349, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  5. Fernandez, Raquel & Rogerson, Richard, 1996. "Income Distribution, Communities, and the Quality of Public Education," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(1), pages 135-64, February.
  6. Marianne Bertrand & Erzo F. P. Luttmer & Sendhil Mullainathan, 1999. "Network Effects and Welfare Cultures," Working Papers 9903, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.
  7. Knack, Stephen & Keefer, Philip, 1997. "Does Social Capital Have an Economic Payoff? A Cross-Country Investigation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1251-88, November.
  8. Roberts, Kevin W. S., 1977. "Voting over income tax schedules," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 329-340, December.
  9. Jehiel, Philippe & Scotchmer, Suzanne, 2001. "Constitutional Rules of Exclusion in Jurisdiction Formation," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 68(2), pages 393-413, April.
  10. Gaspart, F & Jabbar, M & Melard, C & Platteau, J-P, 1997. "Participation in the Construction of a Local Public Good : A Case Study of Watershed Management in the Ethiopian Highlands," Papers 181, Notre-Dame de la Paix, Sciences Economiques et Sociales.
  11. Case, A.C. & Katz, L.F., 1991. "The Company You Keep: The Effects Of Family And Neighborhood On Disadvantaged Younths," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1555, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  12. Ravallion, Martin & Lokshin, Michael, 1999. "Subjective economic welfare," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2106, The World Bank.
  13. Eliana La Ferrara, . "Ethnicity and Reciprocity: A model of Credit Transactions in Ghana," Working Papers 193, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  14. Epple, Dennis & Romer, Thomas, 1991. "Mobility and Redistribution," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(4), pages 828-58, August.
  15. Narayan, Deepa & Pritchett, Lant, 1999. "Cents and Sociability: Household Income and Social Capital in Rural Tanzania," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 47(4), pages 871-97, July.
  16. Gaspart, Frederic, et al, 1998. "Participation in the Construction of a Local Public Good with Indivisibilities: An Application to Watershed Development in Ethiopia," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 7(2), pages 157-84, July.
  17. Bardhan, Pranab & Ghatak, Maitreesh, 1999. "Inequality, Market Imperfections, and Collective Action Problems," Center for International and Development Economics Research, Working Paper Series qt6hg27862, Center for International and Development Economics Research, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  18. Baland, Jean-Marie & Platteau, Jean-Philippe, 1997. "Wealth Inequality and Efficiency in the Commons: Part I: The Unregulated Case," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 49(4), pages 451-82, October.
  19. Bergstrom, Theodore & Blume, Lawrence & Varian, Hal, 1986. "On the private provision of public goods," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 25-49, February.
  20. La Ferrara, Eliana & Alesina, Alberto, 2000. "Participation in Heterogeneous Communities," Scholarly Articles 4551796, Harvard University Department of Economics.
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