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Asset distribution, inequality, and growth

  • Deininger, Klaus
  • Olinto, Pedro

With the recent resurgence of interest in equity, inequality, and growth, the possibility of a negative relationship between inequality and economic growth, has received renewed interest in the literature. Faced with the prospect that high levels of inequality may persist, and give rise to poverty traps, policymakers are paying more attention to the distributional implications of macroeconomic policies. Because high levels of inequality may hurt overall growth, policymakers are exploring measures to promote growth and equity at the same time. How the consequences of inequality are analyzed, along with the possible cures, depends partly on how inequality is measured. The authors use assets (land) rather than income - and a GMM estimator - to examine the robustness of the relationship between inequality and growth that has been observed in the cross-sectional literature, but has been drawn into question by recent studies using panel techniques. They find evidence that asset inequality - but not income inequality - has a relatively large negative impact on growth. They also find that a highly unequal distribution of assets reduces the effectiveness of educational interventions. This means that policymakers should be more concerned about households'access to assets, and to the opportunities associated with them, than about the distribution of income. Long-term growth might be improved by measures to prevent large jumps in asset inequality - possibly irreversible asset loss because of exogenous shocks - and by policies to facilitate asset accumulation by the poor.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 2375.

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Date of creation: 30 Jun 2000
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:2375
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  1. Deininger, Klaus & Squire, Lyn, 1998. "New ways of looking at old issues: inequality and growth," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(2), pages 259-287.
  2. Bénabou, Roland & Ok, Efe, 1997. "Social Mobility and the Demand for Redistribution : the POUM Hypothesis," IDEI Working Papers 78, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse, revised 1999.
  3. Temple, Jonathan, 1998. "Initial Conditions, Social Capital and Growth in Africa," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 7(3), pages 309-47, October.
  4. Galor, Oded & Zeira, Joseph, 1993. "Income Distribution and Macroeconomics," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(1), pages 35-52, January.
  5. King, Robert G. & Levine, Ross, 1993. "Finance, entrepreneurship and growth: Theory and evidence," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 513-542, December.
  6. Garcia-Penalosa, Cecilia & Aghion, Philippe & Caroli, Eve, 1999. "Inequality and Economic Growth: The Perspective of the New Growth Theories," Economics Papers from University Paris Dauphine 123456789/10091, Paris Dauphine University.
  7. Hausman, Jerry A. & Taylor, William E., 1981. "Panel data and unobservable individual effects," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 16(1), pages 155-155, May.
  8. Fernandez, Raquel & Rogerson, Richard, 1998. "Public Education and Income Distribution: A Dynamic Quantitative Evaluation of Education-Finance Reform," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(4), pages 813-33, September.
  9. Karnit Flug & Antonio Spilimbergo & Erik Wachtenheim, 1996. "Investment in Education: Do Economic Volatility and Credit Constraints Matter?," Research Department Publications 4000, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
  10. Ravallion, Martin, 1998. "Does aggregation hide the harmful effects of inequality on growth?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 61(1), pages 73-77, October.
  11. Cooper, Suzanne J, 1998. " A Positive Theory of Income Redistribution," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 3(2), pages 171-95, June.
  12. Kanbur, Ravi & Lustig, Nora, 1999. "Why is Inequality Back on the Agenda?," Working Papers 127690, Cornell University, Department of Applied Economics and Management.
  13. Richard B. Freeman & David L. Lindauer, 1999. "Why Not Africa?," NBER Working Papers 6942, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Amemiya, Takeshi & MaCurdy, Thomas E, 1986. "Instrumental-Variable Estimation of an Error-Components Model," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(4), pages 869-80, July.
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