Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Section 2.3: Equity in the distribution of income (IB Econ Syllabus)

Inequality, its causes and its effects, is an important topic in the IB Economics course for both HL & SL (syllabus section 2.3 Equity in the Distribution of Income)

This article will help candidates understand the issues better and equip them with examples.  It's written by Michael Spence and is titled Good and Bad Inequality.

...Nonetheless, experience in a wide range of countries suggests that high and rising levels of inequality, especially inequality of opportunity, can indeed be detrimental to growth. One reason is that inequality undercuts the political and social consensus around growth-oriented strategies and policies. It can lead to gridlock, conflict, or poor policy choices. The evidence supports the view that the systematic exclusion of subgroups on any arbitrary basis (for example, ethnicity, race, or religion) is particularly damaging in this respect.

The distinction between good and bad inequality is also made by Branko Milanovic (see his book The Haves and the Have-Nots: A Brief and Idiosyncratic History of Global Inequality. This is from the New York Times review of this book:
“There is ‘good’ and ‘bad’ inequality,” Milanovic writes, “just as there is good and bad cholesterol.” The possibility of unequal economic outcomes motivates people to work harder, he argues, although at some point it can lead to the preservation of acquired positions, which causes economies to stagnate.

There is also this February 2014 IMF paper by Ostry, Berg, and Tsangarides: Redistribution, Inequality, and Growth where in the Executive Summary we read:
While considerable controversy surrounds these issues, we should not jump to the conclusion that the treatment for inequality may be worse for growth than the disease itself. Equality-enhancing interventions could actually help growth: think of taxes on activities with negative externalities paid mostly by the rich (perhaps excessive risk-taking in the financial sector) or cash transfers aimed at encouraging better attendance at primary schools in developing countries, as examples. The macroeconomic effects of redistributive policies will reflect a balance between the components of the fiscal package, and it is an empirical question whether redistribution in practice is pro- or anti-growth.

This article from the Guardian discusses the above paper (perhaps though, only parts of it):
IMF study finds inequality is damaging to economic growth.

Remember that to reach Level 4 (highest marks) in the Paper 1 essays '...examples are used effectively'.

And, yes, back to school on the 11th of September in Greece: Καλή χρονιά σε όλους!

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