Inequality in Developing Economies: The Role of Institutional Development
This paper studies the distributive impact of institutional change in developing countries. In such economies, economic institutions, such as property rights systems, may act to preserve the interests of an influential minority, but this depends crucially on the level of political equality. For example, dominant classes can control key-markets, access to assets and investment opportunities, especially if they enjoy disproportionate political power. We test this hypothesis using cross-section and panel data methods on a sample of low- and middle-income economies from Africa, Asia and Latin America. Results suggest that: (a) increasing the protection of property rights increases income inequality; (b) such an effect is larger in low-democracy environments; (c) a minority of countries have developed a set political institutions capable of counterbalancing this effect.
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