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Inequality and Income Distribution in Georgia


  • Yemtsov, Ruslan

    () (World Bank)


In the period of macroeconomic crisis in Georgia between 1991 and 1994 the combination of hyperinflation, catastrophic output drop and weak governance, have led to a sharp rise in inequality among households. Sharp inequities have arisen not only between households, but also between regions. This paper gives a picture of the main channels of redistribution and of the main driving forces of income inequality in Georgia, as it emerges from the analysis of the first representative survey of incomes and expenditures of Georgian households in 1996-1997. The paper finds that the level of inequality for money income in Georgia is comparable to highest inequality countries of Latin America (Gini equals 0.6). However, given the degree of informalization and demonetization of the economy, measuring only reported monetary incomes gives a somewhat misleading picture of the living standards. The paper argues that consumption is a much better indicator of welfare, especially in the Georgian context and explores the relationship between income and consumption in the Georgian context. Using consumption, we get the picture that is marked by very clear, though, not as striking inequalities (Gini coefficient of 0.36). Growth has not yet had a strong impact on consumption inequality per se, but we find evidence that during 1996-97 consumption increased at almost all levels of the distribution. During the same period, there was significant income mobility, except for those at the very bottom or the very top of the income distribution. For the latter, economic success appears to be closely associated with labor market status, ownership of productive assets and resulting earnings opportunities. Georgian economy is generating a system of much inequality. The key share of inequality can be attributed to informal incomes (using the decomposition analysis as proposed by Shorrocks). State transfers being reduced to minimum levels do exercise only a slight positive impact on the overall inequality outcomes.

Suggested Citation

  • Yemtsov, Ruslan, 2001. "Inequality and Income Distribution in Georgia," IZA Discussion Papers 252, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp252

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Angus Deaton, 1999. "Commodity Prices and Growth in Africa," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 13(3), pages 23-40, Summer.
    2. Collins, William J & O'Rourke, Kevin Hjortshøj & Williamson, Jeffrey G, 1997. "Were Trade and Factor Mobility Substitutes in History?," CEPR Discussion Papers 1661, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Bevan, David & Collier, Paul & Gunning, Jan Willem, 1999. "The Political Economy of Poverty, Equity, and Growth: Nigeria and Indonesia," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195209860.
    4. Hatton, Timothy J. & Williamson, Jeffrey G., 1998. "The Age of Mass Migration: Causes and Economic Impact," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195116519.
    5. Richard B. Freeman & Remco Oostendorp, 2000. "Wages Around the World: Pay Across Occupations and Countries," NBER Working Papers 8058, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Paul Collier & Jan Willem Gunning, 1999. "Why Has Africa Grown Slowly?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 13(3), pages 3-22, Summer.
    7. Lucas, Robert E B, 1985. "Migration amongst the Botswana," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 95(378), pages 358-382, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Maksim Yemelyanau, 2009. "Inequality in Belarus from 1995 to 2007," BEROC Working Paper Series 01, Belarusian Economic Research and Outreach Center (BEROC).
    2. Maksim Yemelyanau, 2008. "Inequality in Belarus from 1995 to 2005," CERGE-EI Working Papers wp356, The Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education - Economics Institute, Prague.

    More about this item


    Inequality; returns to education; in-kind income; poverty; income mobility; Gini coefficient; unreported incomes; Theil entropy index; mean log deviation index; decomposition of inequality; inequality between groups;

    JEL classification:

    • I3 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty
    • J4 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets

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