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Poverty, Inequality, and Populist Politics in Iran

  • Djavad Salehi-Isfahani

Despite nearly three decades of revolutionary government rule, poverty and inequality remain the central issues of political debate in Iran. The unexpected electoral victory of Ahmadinejad, the populist candidate in the 2005 presidential election, has been widely attributed to rising poverty and inequity. Using household survey data, I examine the trends in poverty and inequality for the last three decades and show that this thesis is not grounded in facts. Survey data show that poverty has substantially declined in recent years, and is low by international standards and in comparison with pre-revolution years. This �nding is consistent with pro-poor policies of the Islamic government, mainly in provision of basic infrastructure such as electricity, safe drinking water, and health. However, the same policies have not been as elective in reducing in- equality, which, after an initial decline following the Revolution, has remained basically constant in the post-Revolution period.

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Paper provided by Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number e07-1.

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Length: 38 pages
Date of creation: 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:vpi:wpaper:e07-1
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  1. Dean Jolliffe & Anastassia Semykina, 2000. "Robust standard errors for the Foster-Greer-Thorbecke class of poverty indices," Stata Technical Bulletin, StataCorp LP, vol. 9(51).
  2. Dollar, David & Kraay, Aart, 2002. " Growth Is Good for the Poor," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 7(3), pages 195-225, September.
  3. Martin Biewen & Stephen P. Jenkins, 2003. "Estimation of Generalized Entropy and Atkinson Inequality Indices from Complex Survey Data," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 345, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  4. Biewen, Martin, 2002. "Bootstrap inference for inequality, mobility and poverty measurement," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 108(2), pages 317-342, June.
  5. Jean-Yves Duclos & Joan Esteban & Debraj Ray, 2004. "Polarization: Concepts, Measurement, Estimation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(6), pages 1737-1772, November.
  6. Klaus Deininger & Lyn Squire, 1996. "A New Data Set Measuring Income Inequality," CEMA Working Papers 512, China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics.
  7. 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.
  8. Esfahani, Hadi Salehi, 2005. "Alternative public service delivery mechanisms in Iran," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 45(2-3), pages 497-525, May.
  9. Djavad Salehi-Isfahani, 2006. "Revolution and redistribution in Iran: poverty and inequality 25 years later," Working Papers e06-3, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Department of Economics.
  10. Shorrocks, Anthony F, 1983. "The Impact of Income Components on the Distribution of Family Incomes," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 98(2), pages 311-26, May.
  11. Milanovic, Branko & DEC, 1994. "Determinants of cross-country income inequality : an augmented Kuznets hypothesis," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1246, The World Bank.
  12. Hongyi Li & Lyn Squire & Tao Zhang & Heng-fu Zou, 1999. "A Data Set on Income Distribution," CEMA Working Papers 575, China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics.
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