Inequality has the potential to undermine growth. However, greater redistribution requires higher tax rates, which reduce incentives to work and save. Moreover, the evidence that inequality is bad for growth might simply reflect the fact that more unequal societies choose to redistribute more, and those efforts are antithetical to growth. This column presents evidence from a new dataset on pre- and post-tax inequality. The authors find that income equality is protective of growth, and that redistributive transfers on average have little if any direct adverse impact on growth.
The GNI is often regarded as the best indicator of a country’s living standards, but it does not record unilateral transfers – most importantly remittances – which are amongst the largest types of income inflows to developing countries. For many developing countries GNDI is significantly larger than GNI, from 3% for India to 75% for Liberia. This column argues that GNDI is preferable, since GNI masks heterogeneity in purchasing power.
Urbanisation and GDP per capita are positively correlated across countries. However, when the sample is restricted to developing countries, urbanisation and growth are more loosely related – particularly in Africa. This column argues that the low share of manufacturing in developing-country cities may help to explain this discrepancy. Strengthening urban finances, embracing technology, improving skills, and stimulating the formal sector will help cities to promote growth. Since decisions affecting urban development can have lasting impact, longer-term planning deserves greater attention than it is currently receiving.
Financial development and growth have long been linked. This column argues that there remain fundamental lacunae in our understanding of the finance-growth nexus. Three main areas for future research are identified: aid, institutions and technology.
How many people are poor worldwide? This column explains that the answer depends on whether one uses survey of national-accounts data to anchor country distributions of income. It then argues that night-time lights suggest that national accounts offer a better estimate. Developing world poverty may be as low as 4.5% in 2010, much lower than the path constructed by surveys.
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CEPR Policy Research
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- 21st Century Challenges: The Mobile Middle Class13 - 13 March 2014 / Royal Geographical Society, 1 Kensington Gore, SW7 London / Royal Geographical Society (with IBG)
- The 13th Annual GEP Postgraduate Conference 20141 - 2 May 2014 / Nottingham / Sponsored by Nottingham Centre for Research on Globalisation and Economic Policy (GEP) University of Nottingham, United Kingdom
- Exchange Rates and External Adjustment2 - 3 June 2014 / Zurich / Swiss National Bank
- 13th Summer School in International Development Economics: Investment, Saving and Wellbeing in Developing Countries10 - 13 June 2014 / Palazzo Feltrinelli, Gargnano, Lake Garda (Italy) / Organisers: Centro Studi Luca d’Agliano, Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR), Paolo Baffi Center on International Markets, Money and Regulation, Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods of the University of Milan, Department of Economics, Quantitative Methods and Business Strategies of the University of Milan Bicocca, Vilfredo Pareto Doctoral Program in Economics of the University of Turin, The Lombardy Advanced School of Economic Research (LASER).
- 3rd WB-BE Research Conference: Financing growth: Levers, Boosters and Brakes23 - 24 June 2014 / Banco de España headquarters in Madrid / This conference is sponsored by Banco de España and The World Bank