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Mass versus Exclusive Goods, and Formal-Sector Employment

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  • Reto Foellmi
  • Josef Zweimüller

Abstract

We explore how the underemployment problem of less-developed economies is related to income inequality. Our crucial assumption is that consumers have non-homothetic preferences over differentiated products of formal-sector goods and thus that inequality affects the composition of aggregate demand via the price-setting behavior of formal-sector firms. We find that (i) high inequality divides the formal sector into mass producers (which charge low prices that are within the reach of the poor) and exclusive producers (which charge high prices and sell only to the rich); (ii) high inequality generates an equilibrium where many workers are crowded into the informal economy; and (iii) an increase in subsistence productivity raises the wages of unskilled workers and boosts employment due to the higher purchasing power of poorer households.

Suggested Citation

  • Reto Foellmi & Josef Zweimüller, 2010. "Mass versus Exclusive Goods, and Formal-Sector Employment," Diskussionsschriften dp1005, Universitaet Bern, Departement Volkswirtschaft.
  • Handle: RePEc:ube:dpvwib:dp1005
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Income distribution; monopolistic competition; mark-ups; exclusion;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E25 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Aggregate Factor Income Distribution
    • D30 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - General
    • D42 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Monopoly
    • L16 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Industrial Organization and Macroeconomics; Macroeconomic Industrial Structure
    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity

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