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The Political Economy of Inequality

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  • James A. Robinson

    (Harvard University, Department of Government and IQSS)

Abstract

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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  • James A. Robinson, 2009. "The Political Economy of Inequality," Working Papers 493, Economic Research Forum, revised Jun 2009.
  • Handle: RePEc:erg:wpaper:493
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Harinder Kohli & Anil Sood (ed.), 2010. "India 2039: An Affluent Society in One Generation," Books, Emerging Markets Forum, edition 1, number india2039, July.
    2. Darryl McLeod & Nora Lustig, 2010. "Inequality and Poverty under Latin America's New Left Regimes," Fordham Economics Discussion Paper Series dp2010-13, Fordham University, Department of Economics.
    3. Rob Davies & James Thurlow, 2010. "Formal–Informal Economy Linkages And Unemployment In South Africa," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 78(4), pages 437-459, December.
    4. González, Mariano & Larrú, José María, 2012. "Egalitarian aid. The impact of aid on Latin American inequality," MPRA Paper 41660, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Balamatsias, Pavlos, 2018. "Democracy and taxation," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal (2007-2020), Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW Kiel), vol. 12, pages 1-28.
    6. Sami Bibi & Mustapha K. Nabli, 2009. "Income Inequality In The Arab Region: Data And Measurement, Patterns And Trends," Middle East Development Journal (MEDJ), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 1(02), pages 275-314.
    7. Facundo Alvaredo & Leonardo Gasparini, 2013. "Recent Trends in Inequality and Poverty in Developing Countries," CEDLAS, Working Papers 0151, CEDLAS, Universidad Nacional de La Plata.

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