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Inequality is bad for growth of the poor (but not for that of the rich)

Listed author(s):
  • van der Weide, Roy
  • Milanovic, Branko

The paper assesses the impact of overall inequality, as well as inequality among the poor and among the rich, on the growth rates along various percentiles of the income distribution. The analysis uses micro-census data from U.S. states covering the period from 1960 to 2010. The paper finds evidence that high levels of inequality reduce the income growth of the poor and, if anything, help the growth of the rich. When inequality is deconstructed into bottom and top inequality, the analysis finds that it is mostly top inequality that is holding back growth at the bottom.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 6963.

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Date of creation: 01 Jul 2014
Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:6963
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  1. Sarah Voitchovsky, 2005. "Does the Profile of Income Inequality Matter for Economic Growth?," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 10(3), pages 273-296, 09.
  2. Oded Galor & Omer Moav, 2004. "From Physical to Human Capital Accumulation: Inequality and the Process of Development," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 71(4), pages 1001-1026.
  3. Easterly, William, 2007. "Inequality does cause underdevelopment: Insights from a new instrument," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(2), pages 755-776, November.
  4. Ferreira, Francisco H. G. & Lakner, Christoph & Lugo, Maria Ana & Ozler, Berk, 2014. "Inequality of opportunity and economic growth : a cross-country analysis," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6915, The World Bank.
  5. Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez, 2007. "How Progressive is the U.S. Federal Tax System? A Historical and International Perspective," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(1), pages 3-24, Winter.
  6. Alberto Alesina & Dani Rodrik, 1994. "Distributive Politics and Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(2), pages 465-490.
  7. Keefer, Philip & Knack, Stephen, 2002. "Polarization, Politics and Property Rights: Links between Inequality and Growth," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 111(1-2), pages 127-154, March.
  8. Dwayne Benjamin & Loren Brandt & John Giles, 2011. "Did Higher Inequality Impede Growth in Rural China?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 121(557), pages 1281-1309, December.
  9. Ravallion, Martin, 2009. "Why don't we see poverty convergence ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4974, The World Bank.
  10. Li, Hongyi & Zou, Heng-fu, 1998. "Income Inequality Is Not Harmful for Growth: Theory and Evidence," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 2(3), pages 318-334, October.
  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. Marrero, Gustavo A. & Rodríguez, Juan G., 2013. "Inequality of opportunity and growth," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 107-122.
  13. Lloyd-Ellis, Huw, 2000. "Public Education, Occupational Choice, and the Growth-Inequality Relationship," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 41(1), pages 171-201, February.
  14. Banerjee, Abhijit V & Duflo, Esther, 2003. "Inequality and Growth: What Can the Data Say?," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 8(3), pages 267-299, September.
  15. Araujo, M. Caridad & Ferreira, Francisco H.G. & Lanjouw, Peter & Özler, Berk, 2008. "Local inequality and project choice: Theory and evidence from Ecuador," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(5-6), pages 1022-1046, June.
  16. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1994. "Is Inequality Harmful for Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 600-621, June.
  17. Perotti, Roberto, 1996. "Growth, Income Distribution, and Democracy: What the Data Say," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 1(2), pages 149-187, June.
  18. Milanovic, Branko, 2000. "The median-voter hypothesis, income inequality, and income redistribution: an empirical test with the required data," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 367-410, September.
  19. HÃ¥vard Hegre & Nicholas Sambanis, 2006. "Sensitivity Analysis of Empirical Results on Civil War Onset," Journal of Conflict Resolution, Peace Science Society (International), vol. 50(4), pages 508-535, August.
  20. Kristin J. Forbes, 2000. "A Reassessment of the Relationship between Inequality and Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 869-887, September.
  21. Gustavo A. Marrero & Juan Gabriel Rodríguez, 2012. "Inequality of Opportunity in Europe," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 58(4), pages 597-621, December.
  22. Oded Galor, 2009. "Inequality and Economic Development: An Overview," Working Papers 2009-3, Brown University, Department of Economics.
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