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Inequality, Transfers and Growth: New Evidence From the Economic Transition in Poland

  • Eswar Prasad
  • Michael P. Keane

This paper challenges the conventional wisdom that inequality in Poland increased markedly during the economic transition. Income and consumption inequality actually declined in 1990-92 and rose only moderately above pre-transition levels by 1997. However, inequality in labor earnings increased markedly and consistently during 1990-97. Social transfer mechanisms, including pensions, helped mitigate increases in overall inequality and poverty. More importantly, these transfer mechanisms were well-designed to reduce political resistance to market-oriented reforms in the early years of transition, paving the way for rapid growth. Cross-country evidence from transition economies is consistent with this interpretation and with recent literature suggesting that inequality-reducing redistribution can enhance growth.

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Paper provided by International Monetary Fund in its series IMF Working Papers with number 00/117.

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Length: 52
Date of creation: 01 Jun 2000
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:imf:imfwpa:00/117
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  1. Eswar Prasad & Michael P. Keane, 2002. "Changes in the Structure of Earnings During the Polish Transition," IMF Working Papers 02/135, International Monetary Fund.
  2. Galor, Oded & Zeira, Joseph, 1988. "Income Distribution and Macroeconomics," MPRA Paper 51644, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 01 Sep 1989.
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  7. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1994. "Is Inequality Harmful for Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 600-621, June.
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  17. Brainerd, Elizabeth, 1998. "Winners and Losers in Russia's Economic Transition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(5), pages 1094-1116, December.
  18. Eswar Prasad & Michael P. Keane, 1999. "Consumption and Income Inequality in Poland During the Economic Transition," IMF Working Papers 99/14, International Monetary Fund.
  19. Evans, David S & Jovanovic, Boyan, 1989. "An Estimated Model of Entrepreneurial Choice under Liquidity Constraints," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(4), pages 808-27, August.
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  24. Peter Gottschalk & Timothy M. Smeeding, 1997. "Cross-National Comparisons of Earnings and Income Inequality," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 35(2), pages 633-687, June.
  25. Shorrocks, Anthony F, 1984. "Inequality Decomposition by Population Subgroups," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(6), pages 1369-85, November.
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