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Redistribution in the Age of Austerity: Evidence from Europe, 2006-13

Author

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  • Markus P.A. Schneider
  • Stephen Kinsella
  • Antoine Godin

Abstract

We examine the relationship between changes in a country's public sector fiscal position and inequality at the top and bottom of the income distribution during the age of austerity (2006-13). We use a parametric Lorenz curve model and Gini-like indices of inequality as our measures to assess distributional changes. Based on the EU's Statistics on Income and Living Conditions SLIC and International Monetary Fund data for 12 European countries, we find that more severe adjustments to the cyclically adjusted primary balance (i.e., more austerity) are associated with a more unequal distribution of income driven by rising inequality at the top. The data also weakly suggest a decrease in inequality at the bottom. The distributional impact of austerity measures reflects the reliance on regressive policies, and likely produces increased incentives for rent seeking while reducing incentives for workers to increase productivity.

Suggested Citation

  • Markus P.A. Schneider & Stephen Kinsella & Antoine Godin, 2015. "Redistribution in the Age of Austerity: Evidence from Europe, 2006-13," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_856, Levy Economics Institute.
  • Handle: RePEc:lev:wrkpap:wp_856
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Sarabia, J. -M. & Castillo, Enrique & Slottje, Daniel J., 1999. "An ordered family of Lorenz curves," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 91(1), pages 43-60, July.
    2. Anthony B. Atkinson & Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez, 2011. "Top Incomes in the Long Run of History," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 49(1), pages 3-71, March.
    3. Schaltegger, Christoph A. & Weder, Martin, 2014. "Austerity, inequality and politics," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 35(C), pages 1-22.
    4. David Dollar & Tatjana Kleineberg & Aart Kraay, 2015. "Growth, inequality and social welfare: cross-country evidence," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 30(82), pages 335-377.
    5. Richard Peet, 2011. "Inequality, crisis and austerity in finance capitalism," Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society, Cambridge Political Economy Society, vol. 4(3), pages 383-399.
    6. N. Gregory Mankiw, 2013. "Defending the One Percent," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 27(3), pages 21-34, Summer.
    7. Shorrocks, Anthony F, 1983. "Ranking Income Distributions," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 50(197), pages 3-17, February.
    8. Markus P. A. Schneider & Daniele Tavani, 2015. "Tale of Two Ginis in the United States, 1921-2012," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_826, Levy Economics Institute.
    9. Atkinson, Anthony B., 1970. "On the measurement of inequality," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 244-263, September.
    10. Hassan Bougrine, 2012. "Fiscal austerity, the Great Recession and the rise of new dictatorships," Review of Keynesian Economics, Edward Elgar Publishing, vol. 1(0), pages 109-125.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Inequality; Austerity; Europe; Fiscal Policy; Lorenz Curve;

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • E65 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Studies of Particular Policy Episodes
    • H6 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt

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