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The Political Economy of Inequality

Listed author(s):
  • James A. Robinson

    ()

    (Harvard University, Department of Government and IQSS)

The extent of inequality in society is determined by the distribution of assets, the rates of returns on different assets, and government policy. All of these things are deeply political and reflect the balance of political power in society and the institutions to which this balance gives rise. I illustrate this perspective on the determination of inequality by a case study of the Sudan and argue that in the Middle East and North African countries it suggests a paradox - inequality is much lower than one might anticipate. I make some conjectures about why this might be based on a comparison with the historical development of inequality in Latin America.

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Paper provided by Economic Research Forum in its series Working Papers with number 493.

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Length: 22 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2009
Date of revision: Jun 2009
Publication status: Published by The Economic Research Forum (ERF)
Handle: RePEc:erg:wpaper:493
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  1. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2001. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1369-1401, December.
  2. Dani Rodrik, 1999. "Democracies Pay Higher Wages," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(3), pages 707-738.
  3. Morrisson, Christian & Snyder, Wayne, 2000. "The income inequality of France in historical perspective," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 4(01), pages 59-83, April.
  4. Yousef, Tarik M., 2000. "The Political Economy of Interwar Egyptian Cotton Policy," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 37(4), pages 301-325, October.
  5. Loury, Glenn C, 1981. "Intergenerational Transfers and the Distribution of Earnings," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(4), pages 843-867, June.
  6. Daron Acemoglu & James A. Robinson, 2008. "Persistence of Power, Elites, and Institutions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(1), pages 267-293, March.
  7. Jeffrey G. Williamson, 1998. "Real Wages and Relative Facctor Prices in the Third World 1820-1940: the Mediterranean Basin," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1842, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  8. Adams, Richard Jr. & Page, John, 2003. "Poverty, Inequality and Growth in Selected Middle East and North Africa Countries, 1980-2000," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 31(12), pages 2027-2048, December.
  9. Sevket Pamuk & Jeffrey G. Williamson, 2009. "Ottoman De-Industrialization 1800-1913: Assessing the Shock, Its Impact and the Response," NBER Working Papers 14763, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Acemoglu,Daron & Robinson,James A., 2009. "Economic Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521671422, August.
  11. Alex Cobham (QEH), "undated". "Causes of conflict in Sudan: Testing the Black Book," QEH Working Papers qehwps121, Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford.
  12. Tarik M. Yousef, 2004. "Development, Growth and Policy Reform in the Middle East and North Africa since 1950," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(3), pages 91-115, Summer.
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