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Population and Inequality in East Asia


  • Harry Oshima
  • Andrew Mason

    () (Department of Economics, University of Hawaii at Manoa)


This paper describes the inequality experience of East Asia beginning around 1960 and explores whether that experience is consistent with alternative theories about the determinants of income inequality. Particular emphasis is placed on the implications of rapid economic growth and rapid demographic change that characterized the region. Simple models do not capture the enormous complexity that is characteristic of the region. The differences and the trends in inequality reflect a variety of historical, cultural, political, and geographic forces that have influenced agricultural systems, economic structure, technological innovation, social heterogeneity and cohesion, and the distributions of land, human capital, and other forms of wealth. All of these factors have influenced the extent of inequality in the region. Among the important factors examined are the decline in child dependency, the rise in female labor force participation, demographically-induced changes in factor proportions and factor prices, and changes in health and life-expectancy. Although broad generalizations are difficult, modern societies with low fertility and mortality appear to be characterized by greater equality than traditional ones.

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  • Harry Oshima & Andrew Mason, 1999. "Population and Inequality in East Asia," Working Papers 199903, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hai:wpaper:199903

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Angus Deaton & Christina Paxson, 1997. "The effects of economic and population growth on national saving and inequality," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 34(1), pages 97-114, February.
    2. Lehrer, Evelyn & Nerlove, Marc, 1981. "The Impact of Female Work on Family Income Distribution in the United States: Black-White Differentials," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 27(4), pages 423-431, December.
    3. Deininger, Klaus & Squire, Lyn, 1996. "A New Data Set Measuring Income Inequality," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 10(3), pages 565-591, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Anna Alberini & Aline Chiabai & Lucija Muehlenbachs, 2005. "Using Expert Judgment to Assess Adaptive Capacity to Climate Change: Evidence From a Conjoint Choice Survey," Working Papers 2005.106, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.

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