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The Fractal Nature of Inequality in a Fast Growing World

  • Guido Cozzi
  • Fabio Privileggi

In this paper we investigate wealth inequality/polarization properties related to the support of the limit distribution of wealth in innovative economies characterized by uninsurable individual risk. We work out two simple successive generation examples, one with stochastic human capital accumulation and one with R&D, and prove that intense technological progress makes the support of the wealth distribution converge to a fractal Cantor-like set. Such limit distribution implies the disappearance of the middle class, with a “gap” between two wealth clusters that widens as the growth rate becomes higher. Hence, we claim that in a highly meritocratic world in which the payoff of the successful individuals is high enough, and in which social mobility is strong, societies tend to become unequal and polarized. We also show that a redistribution scheme financed by proportional taxation does not help cure society’s inequality/polarization – on the contrary, it might increase it – whereas random taxation may well succeed in filling the gap by giving rise to an artificial middle class, but it hardly makes such class sizeable enough. Finally, we investigate how disconnection, a typical feature of Cantor-like sets, is related to inequality in the long run.

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Paper provided by Business School - Economics, University of Glasgow in its series Working Papers with number 2007_45.

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Date of creation: Dec 2007
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Handle: RePEc:gla:glaewp:2007_45
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  1. Oded Galor & Joseph Zeira, 2013. "Income Distribution and Macroeconomics," Working Papers 2013-12, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  2. Abhijit V. Banerjee & Andrew F. Newman, 1990. "Occupational Choice and the Process of Development," Discussion Papers 911, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
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  19. Mitra, Tapan & Privileggi, Fabio, 2003. "Cantor Type Invariant Distributions in the Theory of Optimal Growth under Uncertainty," Working Papers 03-09, Cornell University, Center for Analytic Economics.
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