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.
|Date of creation:||Aug 2005|
|Date of revision:|
|Publication status:||published as Fullerton, D. and B. Weingast (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Political Economy. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.|
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