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Income Inequality Is Not Harmful for Growth: Theory and Evidence

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  • Hongyi Li
  • Heng-fu Zou

Abstract

The paper shows that income inequality may theoretically lead to higher economic growth if public consumption enters the utility function. Empirically, baseline estimations and a sensitivity analysis show that income inequality is positively, and most of the time significantly, associated with economic growth. These findings stand in sharp contrast to the negative association between inequality and growth propounded by Alesina and Rodrik and by Persson and Tabellini.

Suggested Citation

  • Hongyi Li & Heng-fu Zou, 1998. "Income Inequality Is Not Harmful for Growth: Theory and Evidence," CEMA Working Papers 74, China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:cuf:wpaper:74
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    1. Greenwood, Jeremy & Jovanovic, Boyan, 1990. "Financial Development, Growth, and the Distribution of Income," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(5), pages 1076-1107, October.
    2. Atkinson, A B, 1997. "Bringing Income Distribution in from the Cold," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(441), pages 297-321, March.
    3. Hall, Robert E, 1988. "Intertemporal Substitution in Consumption," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(2), pages 339-357, April.
    4. Oded Galor & Joseph Zeira, 1993. "Income Distribution and Macroeconomics," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 60(1), pages 35-52.
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