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Inflation, Inequality, and Social Conflict

  • Christopher W. Crowe

This paper presents and then tests a political economy model to analyze the observed positive relationship between income inequality and inflation. The model''s key features are unequal access to both inflation-hedging opportunities and the political process. The model predicts that inequality and ''elite bias'' in the political system interact to create incentives for inflation. The paper''s empirical section focuses on this predicted interaction effect. The identification strategy involves using the end of the Cold War as a source of exogenous variation in the political environment. It finds robust evidence in support of the model.

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Paper provided by International Monetary Fund in its series IMF Working Papers with number 06/158.

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Length: 37
Date of creation: 01 Jun 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:imf:imfwpa:06/158
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  1. Beetsma, Roel M W J & van der Ploeg, Frederick, 1996. " Does Inequality Cause Inflation?: The Political Economy of Inflation, Taxation and Government Debt," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 87(1-2), pages 143-62, April.
  2. Jim Dolmas & Gregory W. Huffman & Mark A. Wynne, 2000. "Inequality, inflation, and central bank independence," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 33(1), pages 271-287, February.
  3. Mulligan, Casey B & Sala-i-Martin, Xavier, 1996. "Adoption of Financial Technologies: Implications for Money Demand and Monetary Policy," CEPR Discussion Papers 1358, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  6. Fischer, Stanley & Huizinga, John, 1982. "Inflation, Unemployment, and Public Opinion Polls," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 14(1), pages 1-19, February.
  7. Erzo G. J. Luttmer, 1999. "What Level of Fixed Costs Can Reconcile Consumption and Stock Returns?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(5), pages 969-997, October.
  8. Albanesi, Stefania, 2002. "Inflation and Inequality," CEPR Discussion Papers 3470, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  9. Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, . "Political Economics and Macroeconomic Policy," Working Papers 121, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  10. Hassler, John & Krusell, Per & Storesletten, Kjetil & Zilibotti, Fabrizio, 2005. "The dynamics of government," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(7), pages 1331-1358, October.
  11. Christina D. Romer & David H. Romer, 1998. "Monetary policy and the well-being of the poor," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, pages 159-201.
  12. Robert J. Shiller, 1997. "Why Do People Dislike Inflation?," NBER Chapters, in: Reducing Inflation: Motivation and Strategy, pages 13-70 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Robert E. Lucas Jr. & Nancy L. Stokey, 1982. "Optimal Fiscal and Monetary Policy in an Economy Without Capital," Discussion Papers 532, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  14. Ales Bulir, 1998. "Income Inequality; Does Inflation Matter?," IMF Working Papers 98/7, International Monetary Fund.
  15. Barro, Robert J & Gordon, David B, 1983. "A Positive Theory of Monetary Policy in a Natural Rate Model," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(4), pages 589-610, August.
  16. Assar Lindbeck & Jörgen Weibull, 1987. "Balanced-budget redistribution as the outcome of political competition," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 52(3), pages 273-297, January.
  17. Alex Cukierman & Sebastian Edwards & Guido Tabellini, 1989. "Seigniorage and Political Instability," NBER Working Papers 3199, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Krusell, Per, 2002. "Time-consistent redistribution," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(4-5), pages 755-769, May.
  19. Easterly, William & Fischer, Stanley, 2000. "Inflation and the poor," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2335, The World Bank.
  20. Jose-Victor Rios-Rull & Per Krusell, 1999. "On the Size of U.S. Government: Political Economy in the Neoclassical Growth Model," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(5), pages 1156-1181, December.
  21. Erosa, Andres & Ventura, Gustavo, 2002. "On inflation as a regressive consumption tax," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(4), pages 761-795, May.
  22. Anne Epaulard, 2003. "Macroeconomic Performance and Poverty Reduction," IMF Working Papers 03/72, International Monetary Fund.
  23. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1977. "Rules Rather Than Discretion: The Inconsistency of Optimal Plans," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(3), pages 473-91, June.
  24. Click, Reid W, 1998. "Seigniorage in a Cross-Section of Countries," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 30(2), pages 154-71, May.
  25. Rogoff, Kenneth, 1985. "The Optimal Degree of Commitment to an Intermediate Monetary Target," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 100(4), pages 1169-89, November.
  26. Ravallion, Martin & Datt, Gaurav, 2002. "Why has economic growth been more pro-poor in some states of India than others?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 381-400, August.
  27. Eliana Cardoso, 1992. "Inflation and Poverty," NBER Working Papers 4006, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  28. Milesi-Ferretti, Gian Maria, 1994. "Wage Indexation and Time Consistency," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 26(4), pages 941-50, November.
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