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When More Poor Means Less Poverty: On Income Inequality and Purchasing Power




We show theoretically that the poor can benefit from price changes induced by higher income inequality. As the number of poor in a society increases, or when the income difference between rich and poor increases, the market for products aimed towards the poor grows and such products become more profitable. As a result, there are circumstances where an increase in poverty associates with higher purchasing power of the poor. Using cross-country data at two points in time on the price of rice and Big Mac hamburgers, we confirm the relationship between inequality and purchasing power of the poor, and show that it is robust to several control variables and also to a first-difference specification.

Suggested Citation

  • Bergh, Andreas & Nilsson, Therese, 2012. "When More Poor Means Less Poverty: On Income Inequality and Purchasing Power," Working Paper Series 900, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:iuiwop:0900

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Pendakur, Krishna, 2002. "Taking prices seriously in the measurement of inequality," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(1), pages 47-69, October.
    2. Daron Acemoglu & Joshua Linn, 2004. "Market Size in Innovation: Theory and Evidence from the Pharmaceutical Industry," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(3), pages 1049-1090.
    3. Deaton, Angus & Paxson, Christina, 1994. "Intertemporal Choice and Inequality," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(3), pages 437-467, June.
    4. Dirk Krueger & Fabrizio Perri, 2006. "Does Income Inequality Lead to Consumption Inequality? Evidence and Theory -super-1," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 73(1), pages 163-193.
    5. Dave D. Weatherspoon & Thomas Reardon, 2003. "The Rise of Supermarkets in Africa: Implications for Agrifood Systems and the Rural Poor," Development Policy Review, Overseas Development Institute, vol. 21, pages 333-355, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bjørnskov, Christian, 2015. "Does economic freedom really kill? On the association between ‘Neoliberal’ policies and homicide rates," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 207-219.
    2. Abhimanyu Dadu & Namrata Gulati, 2014. "Inequality, neighborhoods and variation in prices," Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, Mumbai Working Papers 2014-001, Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, Mumbai, India.
    3. Namrata Gulati & Abhimanyu Dadu, 2014. "Inequality, Neighbourhoods and Variation in Prices," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 34(3), pages 1463-1484.

    More about this item


    Inequality; Poverty; Prices; Purchasing power;

    JEL classification:

    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • I30 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General


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