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Inflation and income inequality in developed and developing countries

Sima Siami-Namini (Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas, USA)
Darren Hudson (Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas, USA)

Journal of Economic Studies

ISSN: 0144-3585

Article publication date: 2 August 2019

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate both linear and/or nonlinear effects of inflation on income inequality and to test the Kuznets hypothesis using panel data of 24 developed countries (DCs) and 66 developing countries (LDCs) observed over the period of 1990–2014.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper explores the short- and long-run Granger causality relationship between inflation and income inequality using the Toda and Yamamoto (1995) procedure and a Vector Error Correction Model (VECM) approach. The existence of a nonlinear relationship between inflation and income inequality is confirmed implying as inflation rises income inequality decreases. Income inequality then reaches a minimum and then starts rising again. The findings of this paper show the existence of Kuznets “U-shaped” hypothesis between income inequality and real GDP per capita in DCs group, and the existence of Kuznets’ inverted “U-shaped” hypothesis for LDCs group.

Findings

The results indicate that there is no bi-directional Granger causality between inflation and income inequality in the short-run, but, there is bi-directional Granger causality in the long-run for both the DCs and LDCs group. The results help us to assess the effectiveness of monetary policy in reducing income inequality in both the DCs and LDCs group. As a policy implication, monetary policy is often aimed at controlling the annual rate of inflation in the long-run with a short-run focus on reducing output gaps and creating employment. However, managing inflation may have implications for income inequality.

Originality/value

This is original research paper which analyzes the “U-shaped” and inverted “U-shaped” paths of income inequality and real GDP per capita for large sample of two group countries including developed and developing countries, respectively. Also, this paper analyzes the nonlinear relationship between inflation and income inequality in two groups. Furthermore, this paper investigates the short- and long-run relationship between variables. The results are important for policy makers.

Keywords

Citation

Siami-Namini, S. and Hudson, D. (2019), "Inflation and income inequality in developed and developing countries", Journal of Economic Studies, Vol. 46 No. 3, pp. 611-632. https://doi.org/10.1108/JES-02-2018-0045

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited