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Inequality, Too Much of a Good Thing

  • Alan B. Krueger

    (Princeton University and NBER)

As the title of this essay suggests, I believe there are both positive and negative effects of inequality. On the positive side, differential rewards provide incentives for individuals to work hard, invest and innovate. On the negative side, differences in rewards that are unrelated to productivity – due to racial discrimination, for example – are corrosive to civil society and cause resources to be misallocated. Even if discrimination did not exist, however, income inequality would be problematic in a democratic society if those who are privileged use their economic muscle to curry favor in the political arena and thereby secure monopoly rents or other advantages. Moreover, for several reasons discussed in the next section, poverty and income inequality create negative externalities. Consequently, it can be in the interest of the wealthy as well as the poor to raise the incomes of the poor, especially by using education and training as a means for redistribution.

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Paper provided by Princeton University, Department of Economics, Center for Economic Policy Studies. in its series Working Papers with number 115.

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Date of creation: Aug 2002
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Handle: RePEc:pri:cepsud:87krueger
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  2. Kornfeld, Robert & Bloom, Howard S, 1999. "Measuring Program Impacts on Earnings and Employment: Do Unemployment Insurance Wage Reports from Employers Agree with Surveys of Individuals?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(1), pages 168-97, January.
  3. Bénabou, Roland, 2000. "Tax And Education Policy In A Heterogeneous Agent Economy: What Levels Of Redistribution Maximize Growth And Efficiency?," CEPR Discussion Papers 2446, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  6. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1994. "Is Inequality Harmful for Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 600-621, June.
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  9. Joshua Angrist & Alan Krueger, 1990. "Does Compulsory School Attendance Affect Schooling and Earnings?," Working Papers 653, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  10. Daniel S. Hamermesh, 1999. "Changing Inequality In Markets For Workplace Amenities," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(4), pages 1085-1123, November.
  11. Harmon, C & Ian Walker, 1995. "Estimates of the economic return to schooling for the UK," IFS Working Papers W95/12, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
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  13. Murphy, Kevin M & Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W, 1991. "The Allocation of Talent: Implications for Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(2), pages 503-30, May.
  14. James J. Heckman, 2000. "Policies to Foster Human Capital," JCPR Working Papers 154, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
  15. Link, Charles R. & Mulligan, James G., 1986. "The merits of a longer school day," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 5(4), pages 373-381, August.
  16. Howard S. Bloom & Larry L. Orr & Stephen H. Bell & George Cave & Fred Doolittle & Winston Lin & Johannes M. Bos, 1997. "The Benefits and Costs of JTPA Title II-A Programs: Key Findings from the National Job Training Partnership Act Study," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 32(3), pages 549-576.
  17. Colm Harmon; & Ian Walker, 1995. "Estimates of Economic Return to Schooling in the UK," Economics, Finance and Accounting Department Working Paper Series n540195, Department of Economics, Finance and Accounting, National University of Ireland - Maynooth.
  18. James Heckman & Neil Hohmann & Jeffrey Smith, 1998. "Substitution and Dropout Bias in Social Experiments: A Study of an Influential Social Experiment," UWO Department of Economics Working Papers 9819, University of Western Ontario, Department of Economics.
  19. David Card & Alan Krueger, 1996. "School Resources and Student Outcomes: An Overview of the Literature and New Evidence from North and South Carolina," NBER Working Papers 5708, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Alan Krueger & Mikael Lindahl, 2000. "Education for Growth: Why and For Whom?," Working Papers 808, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  21. John Shea, 1997. "Does Parents' Money Matter?," NBER Working Papers 6026, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  22. Romer, Paul M, 1990. "Endogenous Technological Change," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(5), pages S71-102, October.
  23. Alan Krueger, 1997. "Experimental Estimates of Education Production Functions," Working Papers 758, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  24. Bjorklund, Anders & Jantti, Markus, 1997. "Intergenerational Income Mobility in Sweden Compared to the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(5), pages 1009-18, December.
  25. Marianne Bertrand & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2001. "Are Ceos Rewarded For Luck? The Ones Without Principals Are," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(3), pages 901-932, August.
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  27. Ehrlich, Isaac, 1973. "Participation in Illegitimate Activities: A Theoretical and Empirical Investigation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(3), pages 521-65, May-June.
  28. Honore, Bo E & Hu, Luojia, 2004. "On the Performance of Some Robust Instrumental Variables Estimators," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 22(1), pages 30-39, January.
  29. James J. Heckman & Jeffrey A. Smith, 1995. "Assessing the Case for Social Experiments," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(2), pages 85-110, Spring.
  30. Thomas J. Kane & Cecilia Elena Rouse, 1999. "The Community College: Educating Students at the Margin between College and Work," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 13(1), pages 63-84, Winter.
  31. John H. Bishop, 1979. "The general equilibrium impact of alternative antipoverty strategies," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 32(2), pages 205-223, January.
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