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Equity and Efficiency under Imperfect Credit Markets

  • Reto Foellmi
  • Manuel Oechslin

Recent macroeconomic research discusses credit market imperfections as a key channel through which inequality retards growth. Limited borrowing prevents the less affluent individuals from investing the efficient amount, and the inefficiencies are considered to become stronger as inequality rises. This paper, though, argues that higher inequality may actually boost aggregate output even with convex technologies and limited borrowing. Less equality in the middle or at the top end of the distribution is associated with a lower borrowing rate and hence better access to credit for the poor. We find, however, that rising relative poverty is unambiguously bad for economic performance. Hence, we suggest that future empirical work on the inequality-growth nexus should use more specific measures of inequality rather than measures of “overall” inequality such as the Gini index.

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Paper provided by Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich in its series IEW - Working Papers with number 265.

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Date of creation: Jan 2006
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Handle: RePEc:zur:iewwpx:265
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  1. Aghion, Philippe & Bolton, Patrick, 1997. "A Theory of Trickle-Down Growth and Development," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 64(2), pages 151-72, April.
  2. Roland Bénabou, 1996. "Inequality and Growth," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1996, Volume 11, pages 11-92 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Galor, Oded & Zeira, Joseph, 1993. "Income Distribution and Macroeconomics," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(1), pages 35-52, January.
  4. 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.
  5. Matsuyama, Kiminori, 2000. "Endogenous Inequality," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 67(4), pages 743-59, October.
  6. Banerjee, Abhijit V & Duflo, Esther, 2003. " Inequality and Growth: What Can the Data Say?," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 8(3), pages 267-99, September.
  7. Thomas Piketty, 1992. "Imperfect Capital Markets and Persistence of Initial Wealth Inequalities," STICERD - Theoretical Economics Paper Series 255, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
  8. repec:cep:stitep:/1992/255 is not listed on IDEAS
  9. Barro, Robert J, 2000. " Inequality and Growth in a Panel of Countries," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 5(1), pages 5-32, March.
  10. Banerjee, Abhijit & Newman, Andrew F, 1998. "Information, the Dual Economy, and Development," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 65(4), pages 631-53, October.
  11. Piketty, Thomas, 1997. "The Dynamics of the Wealth Distribution and the Interest Rate with Credit Rationing," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 64(2), pages 173-89, April.
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