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Income Distribution, Political Instability, and Investment

  • Perotti, Roberto
  • Alesina, Alberto
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    This paper successfully tests on a sample of 71 countries for the period 1960–85 the following hypotheses. Income inequality, by fuelling social discontent, increases sociopolitical instability. The latter, by creating uncertainty in the politico-economic environment, reduces investment. As a consequence, income inequality and investment are inversely related. Since investment is a primary engine of growth, this paper identifies a channel for an inverse relationship between income inequality and growth. We measure socio-political instability with indices which capture the occurrence of more or less violent phenomena of political unrest and we test our hypotheses by estimating a two-equation model in which the endogenous variables are investment and an index of socio-political instability. Our results are robust to sensitivity analysis on the specification of the model and the measure of political instability, and are unchanged when the model is estimated using robust regression techniques.

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    Paper provided by Harvard University Department of Economics in its series Scholarly Articles with number 4553018.

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    Date of creation: 1996
    Date of revision:
    Publication status: Published in European Economic Review
    Handle: RePEc:hrv:faseco:4553018
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    1. Benhabib, Jess & Rustichini, Aldo, 1991. "Social Conflict, Growth and Income Distribution," Working Papers 91-22, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
    2. Galor, Oded & Zeira, Joseph, 1993. "Income Distribution and Macroeconomics," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(1), pages 35-52, January.
    3. Shantayanan Devarajan & Vinaya Swaroop & Heng-fu Zou, 1993. "What do governments buy?," CEMA Working Papers 513, China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics.
    4. Roberts, Kevin W. S., 1977. "Voting over income tax schedules," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 329-340, December.
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