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Inequality

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  • Edward L. Glaeser

Abstract

This paper reviews five striking facts about inequality across countries. As Kuznets (1955) famously first documented, inequality first rises and then falls with income. More unequal societies are much less likely to have democracies or governments that respect property rights. Unequal societies have less redistribution, and we have little idea whether this relationship is caused by redistribution reducing inequality or inequality reducing redistribution. Inequality and ethnic heterogeneity are highly correlated, either because of differences in educational heritages across ethnicities or because ethnic heterogeneity reduces redistribution. Finally, there is much more inequality and less redistribution in the U.S. than in most other developed nations.

Suggested Citation

  • Edward L. Glaeser, 2005. "Inequality," NBER Working Papers 11511, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11511
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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w11511.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Checchi, Daniele & Ichino, Andrea & Rustichini, Aldo, 1999. "More equal but less mobile?: Education financing and intergenerational mobility in Italy and in the US," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(3), pages 351-393, December.
    2. Alberto Alesina & Dani Rodrik, 1994. "Distributive Politics and Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(2), pages 465-490.
    3. Milesi-Ferretti, Gian Maria & Perotti, Roberto & Rostagno, Massimo, 2001. "Electoral Rules and Public Spending," CEPR Discussion Papers 2742, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Edward L. Glaeser & Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer, 2004. "Do Institutions Cause Growth?," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 9(3), pages 271-303, September.
    5. Alberto Alesina & Reza Baqir & William Easterly, 1999. "Public Goods and Ethnic Divisions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(4), pages 1243-1284.
    6. Stanley L. Engerman & Kenneth Lee Sokoloff, 2002. "Factor Endowments, Inequality, and Paths of Development Among New World Economies," ECONOMIA JOURNAL, THE LATIN AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN ECONOMIC ASSOCIATION - LACEA, vol. 0(Fall 2002), pages 41-110, August.
    7. Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, 2005. "The Economic Effects of Constitutions," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262661926, January.
    8. Glaeser, Edward & Scheinkman, Jose & Shleifer, Andrei, 2003. "The injustice of inequality," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 199-222, January.
    9. Meltzer, Allan H & Richard, Scott F, 1981. "A Rational Theory of the Size of Government," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 914-927, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jacob L. Vigdor, 2006. "Fifty Million Voters Can't Be Wrong: Economic Self-Interest and Redistributive Politics," NBER Working Papers 12371, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Dwayne Benjamin & Loren Brandt & John Giles, 2006. "Inequality and Growth in Rural China: Does Higher Inequality Impede Growth?," Working Papers tecipa-237, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
    3. Juan Carlos Cordoba & Genevieve Verdier, 2005. "Lucas vs. Lucas: On Inequality and Growth," Macroeconomics 0511021, EconWPA.
    4. Krawczyk, Michal, 2010. "A glimpse through the veil of ignorance: Equality of opportunity and support for redistribution," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(1-2), pages 131-141, February.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J0 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General

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