Financialization, labor market institutions and inequality

H Evelyne, Bilyana Petrova, John Stephens, Evelyne Huber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The last three decades have witnessed rising inequality and deepening financialization in post-industrial democracies. A rapidly growing literature has linked these two phenomena. We go beyond existing scholarship by specifying which aspects of financialization can be expected to increase inequality and where in the income distribution this effect will occur. We also show that this effect is contingent on institutional context. We posit that the shareholder model of corporate governance and the growing demand for financial professionals are the two dimensions of financialization that drive up pre-tax income inequality. Nevertheless, the spread of the shareholder value model only benefits the very top income earners. We further argue that the institutional strength of labor shapes the relationship between financialization and inequality. We analyze effects of indicators of these two dimensions of financialization on the top 1% and the next 9% income shares and on the 90:50 earnings ratio. We test our hypotheses with data on 18 post-industrial democracies between 1960 and 2015.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)425-452
Number of pages28
JournalReview of International Political Economy
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 27 2022


  • Political economy
  • financialization
  • income distribution
  • labor market institutions
  • post-industrial societies
  • shareholder value model


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