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Globalization, Inequality, and the Rich Countries of the G-20: Evidence from the Luxembourg Income Study (LIS)

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  • Timothy M. Smeeding

Abstract

The purpose of this study is to summarize and comment upon what we know about the determinants of both the level and trend in economic inequality over the past two decades, and to relate these findings to the progress of globalization in these nations. While the fruits of economic progress in rich nations have not been equally spread, we argue that most citizens inrich Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) nations have benefited from the trend toward global economic progress. We begin with a summary of the differences in overall economic inequality within the G-20 nations based on LIS (Luxembourg Income Study) data and recent work by others. Here we find that social policies, wage distributions, time worked, social and labor institutions, and demographic differences all have some influence on why there are large differences in inequality among rich nations at any point in time. In contrast, trade policy has not been shown to have any major impact on economic inequality. Next we turn to trends in inequality. We find modest and sometimes dissimilar changes in the distribution of income have taken place within most advanced nations, with most finding a higher level of inequality in the mid to late 1990s than in the 1980s. Inequality, however, has not risen markedly in some nations (e.g., Denmark, Germany, France, and Canada) over this period, while its rise has slowed in several other nations during the late 1990s. The explanations for rising inequality in rich countries are many, and no one single set of explanations is ultimately convincing. In particular, there is no evidence that we know of that trade and globalization is bad for rich countries. This suggests that rising economic inequality is not inevitable, or that it necessarily hurts low-skill, low-income families. Rather, it suggests that globalization does not force any single outcome on any country. Domestic policies and institutions still have large effects on the level and trend of inequality within rich and middle-income nations, even in a globalizing world economy.

Suggested Citation

  • Timothy M. Smeeding, 2002. "Globalization, Inequality, and the Rich Countries of the G-20: Evidence from the Luxembourg Income Study (LIS)," Center for Policy Research Working Papers 48, Center for Policy Research, Maxwell School, Syracuse University.
  • Handle: RePEc:max:cprwps:48
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    Cited by:

    1. Huang, Ho-Chuan (River) & Fang, WenShwo & Miller, Stephen M. & Yeh, Chih-Chuan, 2015. "The effect of growth volatility on income inequality," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 212-222.
    2. Dawood Mamoon, 2015. "Good versus Bad Political Institutions and Economic Welfare?," International Journal of Economics and Empirical Research (IJEER), The Economics and Social Development Organization (TESDO), vol. 3(4), pages 165-175, April.
    3. Tom Van Ourti & Eddy Van Doorslaer & Xander Koolman, 2006. "The Effect of Growth and Inequality in Incomes on Health Inequality: Theory and Empirical Evidence from the European Panel," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 06-108/3, Tinbergen Institute.
    4. Gustafsson, Bjorn & Nivorozhkina, Ludmila, 2005. "How and why transition made income inequality increase in urban Russia: A local study," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(4), pages 772-787, December.
    5. Jonas Agell, 2004. "Efficiency and Equality in the Labour Market," CESifo Economic Studies, CESifo, vol. 50(2), pages 255-278.
    6. Fischer, Justina A.V., 2012. "Globalization and Political Trust," Papers 285, World Trade Institute.
    7. Bellani, Luna & Scervini, Francesco, 2015. "Heterogeneous preferences and in-kind redistribution: Theory and evidence," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 196-219.
    8. Andrea Brandolini & Timothy M. Smeeding, 2007. "Inequality Patterns in Western-Type Democracies: Cross-Country Differences and Time Changes," CHILD Working Papers wp08_07, CHILD - Centre for Household, Income, Labour and Demographic economics - ITALY.
    9. Van Ourti, Tom & van Doorslaer, Eddy & Koolman, Xander, 2009. "The effect of income growth and inequality on health inequality: Theory and empirical evidence from the European Panel," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 525-539, May.
    10. Olof Bäckman, 2005. "Welfare States, Social Structure and the Dynamics of Poverty Rates: A Comparative Study of 16 Countries, 1980-2000," LIS Working papers 408, LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg.
    11. Afonso, Óscar, 2016. "Effects of labour-market institutions on employment, wages, R&D intensity and growth in 27 OECD countries: From theory to practice," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 48-62.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • O57 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Comparative Studies of Countries

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