IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Analyzing the Kuznets Relationship using Nonparametric and Semiparametric Methods


  • Kui-Wai Li

    (Department of Economics and Finance, City University of Hong Kong)


This paper studies the income inequality and economic development relationship by using unbalanced panel data of OECD and non-OECD countries for the period 1962 - 2003. The nonparametric estimation results show that income inequality in OECD countries are almost on the backside of the inverted-U relationship, while non-OECD countries are approximately on the foreside, except that the relationship in both country groups shows an upturn at a high level of development. Development has an indirect effect on inequality through control variables, but the modes are different in the two country groups. The model specification tests show that the relationship is not necessarily captured by the conventional quadratic function. The cubic and fourth-degree polynomials, respectively, fit the OECD and non-OECD country groups best. The finding is robust regardless whether the specification uses control variables. Development plays a dominant role in mitigating inequality.

Suggested Citation

  • Kui-Wai Li, 2012. "Analyzing the Kuznets Relationship using Nonparametric and Semiparametric Methods," CIRJE F-Series CIRJE-F-839, CIRJE, Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo.
  • Handle: RePEc:tky:fseres:2012cf839

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Huang, Ho-Chuan (River) & Lin, Yi-Chen & Yeh, Chih-Chuan, 2009. "Joint determinations of inequality and growth," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 103(3), pages 163-166, June.
    2. Albanesi, Stefania, 2007. "Inflation and inequality," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(4), pages 1088-1114, May.
    3. Kanbur, Ravi, 2000. "Income distribution and development," Handbook of Income Distribution,in: A.B. Atkinson & F. Bourguignon (ed.), Handbook of Income Distribution, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 13, pages 791-841 Elsevier.
    4. Ravallion, Martin, 2003. "Inequality convergence," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 80(3), pages 351-356, September.
    5. Robert J. Barro, 1999. "Inequality, Growth, and Investment," NBER Working Papers 7038, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Oded Galor & Omer Moav, 2000. "Ability-Biased Technological Transition, Wage Inequality, and Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(2), pages 469-497.
    7. Gould, Eric D & Moav, Omer & Weinberg, Bruce A, 2001. "Precautionary Demand for Education, Inequality, and Technological Progress," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 6(4), pages 285-315, December.
    8. Gourdon, Julien, 2006. "Openness and Inequality in Developing Countries: A New Look at the Evidence," MPRA Paper 4176, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. Michael P. Keane & Eswar S. Prasad, 2002. "Inequality, Transfers, And Growth: New Evidence From The Economic Transition In Poland," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(2), pages 324-341, May.
    10. Oded Galor & Joseph Zeira, 1993. "Income Distribution and Macroeconomics," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 60(1), pages 35-52.
    11. Li, Hongyi & Squire, Lyn & Zou, Heng-fu, 1998. "Explaining International and Intertemporal Variations in Income Inequality," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 108(446), pages 26-43, January.
    12. Wan, Guanghua, 2002. "Income Inequality and Growth in Transition Economies: Are Nonlinear Models Needed?," WIDER Working Paper Series 104, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    13. Acemoglu, Daron, 2001. "Good Jobs versus Bad Jobs," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(1), pages 1-21, January.
    14. Huang, Ho-Chuan River, 2004. "A flexible nonlinear inference to the Kuznets hypothesis," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 84(2), pages 289-296, August.
    15. Henderson, Daniel J. & Carroll, Raymond J. & Li, Qi, 2008. "Nonparametric estimation and testing of fixed effects panel data models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 144(1), pages 257-275, May.
    16. Chen, Been-Lon, 2003. "An inverted-U relationship between inequality and long-run growth," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 78(2), pages 205-212, February.
    17. Jeffrey Frankel & Andrew Rose, 2002. "An Estimate of the Effect of Common Currencies on Trade and Income," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(2), pages 437-466.
    18. Xiaolu, Wang, 2006. "Income Inequality in China and its Influencing Factors," WIDER Working Paper Series 126, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    19. Barro, Robert J, 2000. "Inequality and Growth in a Panel of Countries," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 5(1), pages 5-32, March.
    20. Anand, Sudhir & Kanbur, S. M. R., 1993. "The Kuznets process and the inequality--development relationship," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 25-52, February.
    21. David Mushinski, 2001. "Using non-parametrics to inform parametric tests of Kuznets' hypothesis," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 8(2), pages 77-79.
    22. Lin, Shu-Chin & (River) Huang, Ho-Chuan & Weng, Hsiao-Wen, 2006. "A semi-parametric partially linear investigation of the Kuznets' hypothesis," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 634-647, September.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Kui-Wai Li, 2014. "An analysis on economic opportunity," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 46(33), pages 4060-4074, November.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • C14 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Semiparametric and Nonparametric Methods: General
    • C33 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Spatio-temporal Models


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:tky:fseres:2012cf839. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (CIRJE administrative office). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.