The Tyranny of Inequality

Journal of Public Economics, Vol. 76, No. 3, Pp. 521-558, June 2000

Posted: 6 Jan 2001  

Raghuram G. Rajan

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business; International Monetary Fund (IMF); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Luigi Zingales

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

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Abstract

When parties are very unequally endowed, agreement may be very difficult to reach, even if the specific transaction is easy to contract on, and fungible resources can be transferred to compensate the losing party. The very fungibility of the transferred resource makes it hard to restrict its use, and changes the amount the parties involved spend in trying to grab future rents. This spill-over effect can inhibit otherwise valuable transactions, as well as enable otherwise inefficient transactions. Agreement typically breaks down when the required transfer is large and the proposed recipient of the transfer is relatively unproductive or poorly endowed. We examine the implications of this model for a theory of the optimal allocation of property rights.

JEL Classification: C78, D82

Suggested Citation

Rajan, Raghuram G. and Zingales, Luigi, The Tyranny of Inequality. Journal of Public Economics, Vol. 76, No. 3, Pp. 521-558, June 2000. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=216589

Raghuram G. Rajan (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )

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International Monetary Fund (IMF) ( email )

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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773-702-0458 (Fax)

Luigi Zingales

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )

5807 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
773-702-3196 (Phone)
773-834-2081 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

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United Kingdom

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