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Inequality and Growth: Uncovering the main conclusions from the empirics

Author

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  • Pedro Cunha Neves

    () (Faculdade de Economia, Universidade do Porto, Portugal)

  • Sandra Tavares Silva

    () (CEF.UP, Faculdade de Economia, Universidade do Porto, Portugal)

Abstract

The theme of the relationship between inequality and economic growth has gained considerable attention among economists over the last two decades. In this paper, we analyse the effect of inequality on growth, whose related literature has been producing inconclusive results. After an exhaustive study of the major empirical works in this specific research area, we are able not only to advance with some potential explanations for the apparent lack of consensus on the empirical assessment of the inequality-growth relationship, but also to achieve a better understanding of the nature of this relationship and the forces underlying it. We conclude that the disparities found in the results of the estimation of the reduced-form relationship are most likely due to three dimensions: differences in the estimation techniques, the countries and the periods included in the sample, and the variable used to measure inequality. The last two aspects have particularly important implications. First, country/region specificities play a crucial role in the relationship between inequality and growth, so more emphasis should be put on the estimation of such a relationship on a national/regional basis, rather than trying to establish universal patterns. Second, the time horizon of the analysis should be carefully chosen, as different transmission channels from inequality to growth tend to operate differently in the short and in the long-run. Third, the fact that inequality in wealth distribution has a stronger negative effect on growth than inequality in income distribution may indicate that the channels through which inequality affects growth are not the same in both distributions. Therefore, we argue that in order to produce an accurate assessment of both the reduced-form relationship and the underlying transmission channels these aspects should be accordingly considered, which has not been the case in most of the empirical literature.

Suggested Citation

  • Pedro Cunha Neves & Sandra Tavares Silva, 2010. "Inequality and Growth: Uncovering the main conclusions from the empirics," FEP Working Papers 381, Universidade do Porto, Faculdade de Economia do Porto.
  • Handle: RePEc:por:fepwps:381
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Ziesemer, Thomas, 2011. "What Changes Gini Coefficients of Education? On the dynamic interaction between education, its distribution and growth," MERIT Working Papers 053, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
    2. Stephan Klasen & Nathalie Scholl & Rahul Lahoti & Sophie Ochmann & Sebastian Vollmer, 2016. "Inequality – Worldwide Trends and Current Debates," Courant Research Centre: Poverty, Equity and Growth - Discussion Papers 209, Courant Research Centre PEG.
    3. Gründler, Klaus & Scheuermeyer, Philipp, 2015. "Income inequality, economic growth, and the effect of redistribution," W.E.P. - Würzburg Economic Papers 95, University of Würzburg, Chair for Monetary Policy and International Economics.
    4. Karen Davtyan, 2016. "Interrelation among Economic Growth, Income Inequality, and Fiscal Performance: Evidence from Anglo-Saxon Countries," Hacienda Pública Española, IEF, pages 37-66.
    5. Marta Simões & Adelaide Duarte & João Sousa Andrade, 2014. "Assessing the Impact of the Welfare State on Economic Growth: A Survey of Recent Developments," GEMF Working Papers 2014-20, GEMF, Faculty of Economics, University of Coimbra.
    6. Raul Ramos & Vicente Royuela, 2014. "“Income inequality in Europe. Analysis of recent trends at the regional level”," IREA Working Papers 201425, University of Barcelona, Research Institute of Applied Economics, revised Oct 2014.
    7. Nathalie Scholl & Stephan Klasen, 2016. "Re-estimating the Relationship between Inequality and Growth," Courant Research Centre: Poverty, Equity and Growth - Discussion Papers 205, Courant Research Centre PEG.
    8. Adelaide Duarte & Marta Simões & João Sousa Andrade, 2014. "Estado Social, Quantis, Não-Linearidades e Desempenho Económico: Uma Avaliação Empírica," GEMF Working Papers 2014-21, GEMF, Faculty of Economics, University of Coimbra.
    9. repec:ira:wpaper:201405 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Karen Davtyan, 2016. "“Income Inequality and Monetary Policy: An Analysis on the Long Run Relation”," AQR Working Papers 201604, University of Barcelona, Regional Quantitative Analysis Group, revised Apr 2016.
    11. Karen Davtyan, 2016. "“Income Inequality and Monetary Policy: An analysis on the Long Run Relation”," IREA Working Papers 201604, University of Barcelona, Research Institute of Applied Economics, revised Apr 2016.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    inequality; economic growth; transmission channels; income distribution; wealth distribution; taxation;

    JEL classification:

    • O4 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity
    • D3 - Microeconomics - - Distribution
    • H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue

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