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Income Distribution and Economic Crises


  • Bilin Neyapti

    () (Bilkent University)

  • Derin Aksit

    (Johns Hopkins University)


This paper analyzes the relationship between income distribution and the severity of economic crises, where the severity is measured by the length and the depth of the recessions. Using an extensive panel dataset on income distribution and employing an event study framework, we find significant evidence that there is a negative association between the prevailing degree of income inequality and the severity of the recessions. In the case of high income countries that have bad income distribution, however, recessions are observed to be longer than the average. This observation is likely to result from the combination of the strong status-quo bias of the financially powerful income groups and the available means to redistribute towards the poor so as to help mitigate the pressures for reforms to improve income distribution via creative destruction. The longer period of recessions observed in developed countries than in less developed countries in the aftermath of the Great Recession is in support of this argument. The findings also reveal that recessions tend to be longer during the decade of the 1990s than the rest of the period studied. The evidence regarding the corrective effect on the recessions of accommodative fiscal or monetary policy stance, measured by the size of the government and the inflation rate, is observed to be only barely significant on average. With regard to the impact of recessions on income distribution, the evidence in the paper indicates that the post-crises income distribution worsens significantly with the length but improves with the depth of the preceding recession. We also note that, in addition to the persistence effect, the lack of monetary discipline worsens income distribution in the postcrises period significantly.

Suggested Citation

  • Bilin Neyapti & Derin Aksit, 2015. "Income Distribution and Economic Crises," Koç University-TUSIAD Economic Research Forum Working Papers 1523, Koc University-TUSIAD Economic Research Forum.
  • Handle: RePEc:koc:wpaper:1523

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Siong Law & Hui Tan & W. Azman-Saini, 2014. "Financial Development and Income Inequality at Different Levels of Institutional Quality," Emerging Markets Finance and Trade, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 50(S1), pages 21-33.
    2. Giorgio Bellettini & Flavio Delbono, 2013. "Persistence of High Income Inequality and Banking Crises: 1980-2010," CESifo Working Paper Series 4293, CESifo Group Munich.
    3. Perugini, Cristiano & Hölscher, Jens & Collie, Simon, 2013. "Inequality, credit expansion and financial crises," MPRA Paper 51336, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Berg, Andrew & Ostry, Jonathan D. & Zettelmeyer, Jeromin, 2012. "What makes growth sustained?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 98(2), pages 149-166.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bilin Neyapti, 2016. "From Monetary Policy to Macroprudentials: the Aftermath of the Great Recession," BAFFI CAREFIN Working Papers 1629, BAFFI CAREFIN, Centre for Applied Research on International Markets Banking Finance and Regulation, Universita' Bocconi, Milano, Italy.

    More about this item


    Recession; Income Distribution.;

    JEL classification:

    • E25 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Aggregate Factor Income Distribution
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development

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