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Inequality and Economic Growth: Revisiting Kuznetsian Political Economy of Inequality

While contributing to the on-going debates on inequality and growth, this article reviews recent empirical and theoretical findings within the well-known framework of the Kuznets Curve. It challenges the idea that Kuznets wrote a ‘natural law’ on the impact of growth on inequality, and instead echoes his 1955 argument regarding the importance of political and social factors. Indeed, in order to optimise inclusive growth, policy-makers must embrace a more holistic understanding of these factors and strategically choose supportive policy instruments. Over the past 30 years, the share of income of labour has declined in much of the world. This paper suggests that financialisation, globalisation and declining unionisation rates have contributed to this decline by modifying the social and political economy. Policies and institutions that adequately respond to these challenges have not been put in place. This inaction has exacerbated inequality and in so doing has demonstrated that the time is ripe for a Kuznetsian “shift from market economics to political and social economy”.

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59th Annual Conference of ISLE
Venue: 16-18 December 2017, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India
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