Facundo Alvaredo, Lydia Assouad, Thomas Piketty, 13 August 2018

Survey estimates suggest that inequality in the Middle East is not particularly high despite considerable political conflict. This column uses new ‘distributional national accounts’ data to show that the Middle East is in fact the most unequal region in the world, with both enormous inequality between countries and large inequality within countries. The results emphasise the need to develop mechanisms of regional redistribution and to increase transparency on income and wealth data.

Janet Currie, Hannes Schwandt, Josselin Thuilliez, 10 August 2018

Understanding how inequalities in health are related to inequalities in income is a key issue for policymakers. This column describes how despite increasing income inequality in both countries, the development of mortality has been very different in France compared with the US. The findings show that inequalities in income and health do not necessarily move in tandem, and highlight how public policy helps to break this link. 

Moritz Kuhn, Moritz Schularick, Ulrike Steins, 09 August 2018

Recent work examining the evolution of the wealth distribution has tended to not paid much attention to the role of asset prices. This column uses a new US dataset to explore the role that asset price movements have in the US wealth distribution. Asset prices matter because portfolio composition differs systematically along the wealth distribution. The data further show that no progress has been made in reducing wealth inequalities between white and black households over the past 70 years. 

Brian Nolan, 03 August 2018

The narrative that globalisation and technological change have been the central forces hollowing out the jobs market, squeezing ‘the middle’, driving up inequality, and undermining growth is frequently taken to apply across the rich countries. This column presents a set of country case studies of the US alongside nine other rich countries that highlights just how varied their experiences since the 1980s have actually been.  Country contexts really matter, and policy responses must be framed in light of the institutional point of departure and distinctive challenges each country faces.

S. Amer Ahmed, Maurizio Bussolo, Marcio Cruz, Delfin S. Go, Israel Osorio Rodarte, 11 July 2018

Average education levels are increasing in developing countries, but not in high-income countries. The column argues that this 'education wave' in developing countries will reduce global inequality by 2030, with average incomes up to the 90th percentile all benefitting from the trend. However, this equalising effect relies on continued globalisation.

Raj Chetty, Nathaniel Hendren, Maggie R. Jones, Sonya R. Porter, 27 June 2018

The sources of racial disparities in income have been debated for decades. This column uses data on 20 million children and their parents to show how racial disparities persist across generations in the US. For instance, black men have much lower chances of climbing the income ladder than white men even if they grow up on the same block. In contrast, black and white women have similar rates of mobility. The column discusses how such findings can be used to reduce racial disparities going forward.

Javier Cravino, Ting Lan, Andrei Levchenko, 16 June 2018

Monetary policy shocks can affect different types of agents differently. These distributional effects can have important consequences for policy effectiveness. Using US data, this column explores how shocks differentially affect the prices faced by households with different incomes. The results suggest that middle-income households’ consumption baskets have more volatile prices than those of high-income households, and they are therefore more exposed to monetary policy shocks.

Oya Celasun, Bertrand Gruss, 25 May 2018

The manufacturing sector is believed to play a unique role as a catalyst for productivity growth and income convergence, and as a provider of well-paid jobs for less-skilled workers. This column argues, however, that the declining share of manufacturing employment over the past decades need not hurt the income convergence prospects of developing economies and that the loss of manufacturing jobs can only explain a small fraction of the rise in inequality in advanced economies. That said, getting the policies right is key to help countries make the most out of structural transformation. 

Joshua Aizenman, Yothin Jinjarak, Nam Ngo, Ilan Noy, 11 December 2017

The Global Crisis and its aftermath has focused attention on increasing inequality, and specifically on declining real incomes of the working poor. Comparing the US to Germany, this column argues that pushing more students to degree-granting colleges may no longer be the most efficient way to deal with the challenges caused by the decline in manufacturing employment affecting, in particular, lower-income households. Well-resourced, well-targeted vocational training can prove to be a better long-term investment in skill acquisition to help ameliorate the difficulties faced by workers whose prospects look to be quite bleak.

, 01 August 2017

How is wealth distributed in society? This video discusses the differences between the rich and the poor, and how it has evolved in the last 50 years. This video was produced for the Centre for Economic Performance (LSE).

Raj Chetty, David Grusky, Maximilian Hell, Nathaniel Hendren, Robert Manduca, Jimmy Narang, 05 May 2017

One of the defining features of the ‘American Dream’ is the ideal that children have a higher standard of living than their parents. This column examines rates of ‘absolute income mobility’ – the fraction of children who earn more than their parents – to assess whether the US is living up to this ideal. Rates of absolute mobility have fallen from approximately 90% for children born in 1940 to 50% for children born in the 1980s. Most of this decline is driven by the more unequal distribution of economic growth rather than the slowdown in aggregate growth rates.

Karen Clay, Jeff Lingwall, Melvin Stephens, 22 April 2017

The exact causes of (and lessons from) the Great Compression – the decline in US income inequality in the mid-20th century – remain unclear. This column uses census data and changes in law to examine the effect of education across the complete distribution of income. Policies that increased attendance for young children in the late 19th and early 20th centuries appear to have had long-term implications for earnings and inequality, with returns to schooling highest among those at the lower end of the income distribution.

Ravi Kanbur, Yue Wang, Xiaobo Zhang, 15 March 2017

Sharply increasing inequality became an integral part of the narrative on Chinese development since the beginning of the reform process in 1978. Over the past decade, however, many studies have argued that inequality has been plateauing, or even declining. This column uses several datasets, including household surveys and regional-level government statistics, to show evidence of a mitigation of inequality in the early 21st century, and indeed, declining rates over recent years. Possible drivers of this turnaround are urbanisation, transfer and regulation regimes, and tightening rural labour markets.  

Finn Tarp, Miguel Niño-Zarazúa, 30 August 2016

Relative inequality has decreased in the last deades but absolute inequality has gone up. In this video, Finn Tarp and Miguel Niño-Zarazúa discuss trends in global inequality. This video was recorded during a UNU-WIDER conference on “Human capital and growth” held in June 2016.  

Brian Bell, 17 August 2016

Wage inequality was partly behind the vote for Brexit. In this video, Brian Bell argues that the consequences of Brexit should be evaluated across the income distribution. This video is part of the “Econ after Brexit” series organised by CEPR and was recorded on 14 July 2016.

James Harrigan, Ariell Reshef, Farid Toubal, 06 July 2016

Job polarisation has been documented in many large developed economies over the past two decades. This column shows how the growth of ICT has contributed to these trends. Using French firm-level data, it documents the declining share of middle-wage jobs, and identifies an increase in the share of technology-related jobs as an important contributing factor. Firms with more ‘techies’ are also found to grow faster than less techie-intensive firms.

Dalia Marin, 23 June 2016

Income inequality is less severe in Germany than in the US. Part of this is due to CEO pay in the US growing faster than in Germany. This column offers some novel explanations for these observations. From the mid-1990s, Germany began offshoring managerial tasks to Eastern Europe, reducing demand for German managers. In addition Germany offshored skill-intensive jobs to Eastern Europe, reducing the skill premium.

Alexander Cappelen, Bertil Tungodden, 26 May 2016

What happens in the brain when something is fair or unfair? In this video, Alexander Cappelen and Bertil Tungodden present their research on the effects of fairness on our brains. Using fMRI technology, the neuroeconomics study shows that the brain reacts to unfairness. Income inequalities are perceived as fair if they reflect different work contributions. This video was recorded at the Choice Lab, Norwegian School of Economics, in Bergen.

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The Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI) invites submissions of unpublished papers that focus on structural transformation and inclusive growth. Both theoretical and empirical research papers with policy orientation are welcome provided that findings, conclusions, and policy recommendations are based on solid evidence and analysis.

Manuscripts can focus on a group of countries, or individual economies.

The papers should be related to, though not limited to, one of the following topics:

Growth decomposition across the income quantiles1
Structural transformation and growth incidence2
Structural transformation and income inequality
Future of the Kuznets Curve hypothesis3
Structural transformation and livelihood diversification

Julia Tanndal, Daniel Waldenström, 13 April 2016

Financial deregulation in the US has been shown to be associated with rising income inequality over the past four decades. This column looks at the income effects of financial deregulation in the UK and Japan during the 1980s and 1990s. As in the US, deregulation substantially increased the shares of income going to the very top of the distribution. These findings highlight the importance of financial markets in the evolution of income inequality in society. 

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