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Examining the Impact of Macro-Economic Conditions on Income Inequality


  • Jäntti, Markus

    () (SOFI, Stockholm University)

  • Jenkins, Stephen P.

    () (London School of Economics)


This paper proposes a new approach for analyzing the relationship between macroeconomic factors and the income distribution. The conventional method of analysis is regression of summary inequality indices on variables such as the unemployment and inflation rates. Building on the lessons from recent advances in time-series econometrics, we suggest instead that one should first fit a parametric functional form to the income distribution for each year, and then model the time series of model parameters in terms of the macroeconomic factors. Inferences about the relationship between the income distribution and macro-economic factors can be derived from the model estimates. We apply these methods to data from the United Kingdom for 1961-91, and contrast the results with those found using earlier methods.

Suggested Citation

  • Jäntti, Markus & Jenkins, Stephen P., 2001. "Examining the Impact of Macro-Economic Conditions on Income Inequality," IZA Discussion Papers 364, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp364

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. McDonald, James B, 1984. "Some Generalized Functions for the Size Distribution of Income," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(3), pages 647-663, May.
    2. Kwiatkowski, Denis & Phillips, Peter C. B. & Schmidt, Peter & Shin, Yongcheol, 1992. "Testing the null hypothesis of stationarity against the alternative of a unit root : How sure are we that economic time series have a unit root?," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 54(1-3), pages 159-178.
    3. Rebecca M. Blank & Alan S. Blinder, 1985. "Macroeconomics, Income Distribution, and Poverty," NBER Working Papers 1567, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Bjorklund, Anders, 1991. " Unemployment and Income Distribution: Time-Series Evidence from Sweden," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 93(3), pages 457-465.
    5. Blinder, Alan S & Esaki, Howard Y, 1978. "Macroeconomic Activity and Income Distribution in the Postwar United States," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 60(4), pages 604-609, November.
    6. Singh, S K & Maddala, G S, 1976. "A Function for Size Distribution of Incomes," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 44(5), pages 963-970, September.
    7. David M. Cutler & Lawrence F. Katz, 1991. "Macroeconomic Performance and the Disadvantaged," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 22(2), pages 1-74.
    8. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1994. "Is Inequality Harmful for Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 600-621, June.
    9. Wilfling, Bernd & Kramer, Walter, 1993. "The Lorenz-ordering of Singh-Maddala income distributions," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 53-57.
    10. Jantti, Markus, 1994. "A More Efficient Estimate of the Effects of Macroeconomic Activity on the Distribution of Income," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 76(2), pages 372-378, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Arne Heise, 2006. "A Post-Kaleckian, Post-Olsonian Approach to Unemployment and Income Inequality in Modern Varieties of Capitalism," Annals of Economics and Finance, Society for AEF, vol. 7(2), pages 357-383, November.
    2. Jaynes, Gerald D., 2011. "Social Policy and U.S. Poverty 1960-1999: An Economic History," Working Papers 90, Yale University, Department of Economics.
    3. Atkinson, Tony, 2002. "Atkinson: evaluation of national action plans on social inclusion: the role of EUROMOD," EUROMOD Working Papers EM1/02, EUROMOD at the Institute for Social and Economic Research.

    More about this item


    unemployment; macro-economic conditions; Income inequality; Singh-Maddala distribution; inflation;

    JEL classification:

    • C51 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric Modeling - - - Model Construction and Estimation
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • E6 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook

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