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Mass Consumption, Exclusion, and Unemployment

  • Reto Foellmi
  • Joseph Zweimüller

We introduce non-homothetic preferences into a general equilibrium model of monopolistic competition and explore the impact of income inequality on the medium-run macroeconomic equilibrium. We find that (i) a sufficiently high extent of inequality divides the economy into mass consumption sectors (where firms charge low prices and hire many workers) and exclusive sectors (where firms charge high prices and hire few workers). (ii) High inequality may lead to a situation of underemployment and that underemployment could be ”Keynesian” in the sense that it cannot be cured by downward-flexible real wages. (iii) A redistribution of income from rich to poor (by means of progressive taxation) leads to higher employment and such a redistribution is Pareto-improving. (iv) An exogenous increase in (minimum) real wages have a cost effect (that lets firms reduce their employment) and a purchasing power effect (that creates an incentive for mass production and raises aggregate employment) with ambiguous net effects. (v) The economy may feature multiple equilibria where full-employment and unemployment equilibria co-exist.

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Paper provided by Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich in its series IEW - Working Papers with number 296.

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Date of creation: Jul 2006
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Handle: RePEc:zur:iewwpx:296
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  1. d'ASPREMONT, Claude & DOS SANTOS FERREIRA, Rodolphe & GERARD-VARET, Louis-André, . "On monopolistic competition and involuntary unemployment," CORE Discussion Papers RP 909, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  2. Bertola, Giuseppe, 1993. "Factor Shares and Savings in Endogenous Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1184-98, December.
  3. Dixit, Avinash K & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1977. "Monopolistic Competition and Optimum Product Diversity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(3), pages 297-308, June.
  4. Galor, Oded & Zeira, Joseph, 1988. "Income Distribution and Macroeconomics," MPRA Paper 51644, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 01 Sep 1989.
  5. Kiminori Matsuyama, 2000. "A Ricardian Model with a Continuum of Goods under Nonhomothetic Preferences: Demand Complementarities, Income Distribution, and North-South Trade," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(6), pages 1093-1120, December.
  6. Kiminori Matsuyama, 2000. "The Rise of Mass Consumption Societies," STICERD - Development Economics Papers - From 2008 this series has been superseded by Economic Organisation and Public Policy Discussion Papers 23, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
  7. Silvestre, Joaquim, 1993. "The Market-Power Foundations of Macroeconomic Policy," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 31(1), pages 105-41, March.
  8. Devashish Mitra & Vitor Trindade, 2005. "Inequality and trade," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 38(4), pages 1253-1271, November.
  9. Silvestre, J., 1988. "There May Be Unemployment When The Labor Market Is Competitive And The Output Market Is Not," Papers 316, California Davis - Institute of Governmental Affairs.
  10. Oded Galor & Joseph Zeira, 1993. "Income Distribution and Macroeconomics," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 60(1), pages 35-52.
  11. Roland Benabou, 1996. "Inequality and Growth," NBER Working Papers 5658, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Chol-Won Li., . "Inequality and Growth: A Schumpeterian Perspective," Working Papers 9609, Business School - Economics, University of Glasgow, revised Feb 1998.
  13. Reto Foellmi & Josef Zweimueller, . "Inequality, Market Power, and Product Diversity," IEW - Working Papers 145, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  14. Dehez, Pierre, 1985. "Monopolistic equilibrium and involuntary unemployment," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 160-165, June.
  15. Flam, Harry & Helpman, Elhanan, 1987. "Vertical Product Differentiation and North-South Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(5), pages 810-22, December.
  16. Reto Foellmi & Josef Zweimüller, . "Income Distribution and Demand-induced Innovations," IEW - Working Papers 212, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  17. Gilles Saint-Paul, 2006. "Distribution and Growth in an Economy with Limited Needs: Variable Markups and 'the End of Work'," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 116(511), pages 382-407, 04.
  18. Oded Galor & Omer Moav, 2004. "From Physical to Human Capital Accumulation: Inequality and the Process of Development," GE, Growth, Math methods 0410005, EconWPA.
  19. Oliver Hart, 1982. "A Model of Imperfect Competition with Keynesian Features," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 97(1), pages 109-138.
  20. Falkinger, Josef, 1994. "An Engelian model of growth and innovation with hierarchic consumer demand and unequal incomes," Ricerche Economiche, Elsevier, vol. 48(2), pages 123-139, June.
  21. Kevin M. Murphy & Andrei Shleifer & Robert Vishny, 1988. "Income Distribution, Market Size, and Industrialization," NBER Working Papers 2709, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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