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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.

Suggested Citation

  • Guido Cozzi & Fabio Privileggi, 2007. "The Fractal Nature of Inequality in a Fast Growing World," Working Papers 2007_45, Business School - Economics, University of Glasgow.
  • Handle: RePEc:gla:glaewp:2007_45

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Mitra, Tapan & Privileggi, Fabio, 2005. "Cantor Type Attractors in Stochastic Growth Models," POLIS Working Papers 43, Institute of Public Policy and Public Choice - POLIS.
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    8. 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.
    9. Andreoni, James, 1989. "Giving with Impure Altruism: Applications to Charity and Ricardian Equivalence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(6), pages 1447-1458, December.
    10. Cecilia Garcia-Penalosa & Eve Caroli & Philippe Aghion, 1999. "Inequality and Economic Growth: The Perspective of the New Growth Theories," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(4), pages 1615-1660, December.
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    17. repec:dau:papers:123456789/10091 is not listed on IDEAS
    18. Guido Cozzi & Fabio Privileggi, 2002. "Wealth Polarization and Pulverization in Fractal Societies," ICER Working Papers - Applied Mathematics Series 39-2002, ICER - International Centre for Economic Research.
    19. Barro, Robert J, 2000. "Inequality and Growth in a Panel of Countries," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 5(1), pages 5-32, March.
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    More about this item


    Wealth Inequality; Growth; Technological Change; Fractal; Cantor Set; Invariant Distribution; Polarization; Pulverization;

    JEL classification:

    • C61 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Mathematical Methods; Programming Models; Mathematical and Simulation Modeling - - - Optimization Techniques; Programming Models; Dynamic Analysis
    • O41 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - One, Two, and Multisector Growth Models


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