A refinement of the relationship between economic growth and income inequality

Fadi Fawaz, Masha Rahnama, Victor J. Valcarcel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


There is mixed evidence in the literature of a clear relationship between income inequality and economic growth. Most of that work has focused almost exclusively on developed economies. In what we believe to be a first effort, our emphasis is solely on developing economics, which we classify as high-income and low-income developing countries (HIDC and LIDC). We make such distinction on theoretical and empirical grounds. Empirically, the World Bank has classified developing economies in this manner since 1978. The data in our sample are also supportive of such classifications. We provide theoretical scaffolding that uses asymmetric credit constraints as a premise for separating developing economies in such a way. We find strong evidence of a negative relationship between income inequality and economic growth in LIDC to be in stark contrast with a positive inequality-growth relationship for HIDC. Both correlations are statistically significant across multiple econometric specifications. Using international data from 1960 to 2010, this article explores the effect of income inequality on economic growth using dynamic panel technique, such as system generalized method of moments (GMM) that is believed to mitigate endogenous problem. These results are strikingly contrasting to the previous estimation results of Forbes (2000) displaying significant positive correlation between two variables in the short to medium term.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3351-3361
Number of pages11
JournalApplied Economics
Issue number27
StatePublished - Sep 2014


  • Gini coefficient
  • collateral
  • credit constraints
  • economic growth
  • income inequality


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