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

Listed author(s):
  • Markus P.A. Schneider
  • Stephen Kinsella
  • Antoine Godin

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.

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File URL: http://www.levyinstitute.org/pubs/wp_856.pdf
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Paper provided by Levy Economics Institute in its series Economics Working Paper Archive with number wp_856.

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Date of creation: Dec 2015
Handle: RePEc:lev:wrkpap:wp_856
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.levyinstitute.org

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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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