The Political Economy of the Kuznets Curve

21 Pages Posted: 14 Feb 2003

See all articles by James A. Robinson

James A. Robinson

Harvard University - Department of Government; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Daron Acemoglu

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Abstract

The paper provides a political economy theory of the Kuznets curve. When development leads to increasing inequality, this can induce political instability and force democratization on political elites. Democratization leads to institutional changes which encourage redistribution and reduce inequality. Nevertheless, development does not necessarily induce a Kuznets curve, and it is shown that development may be associated with two types of nondemocratic paths: An "autocratic disaster," with high inequality and low output, and an "East Asian Miracle," with low inequality and high output. These arise either because inequality does not increase with development, or because the degree of political mobilization is low.

Suggested Citation

Robinson, James A. and Acemoglu, Daron, The Political Economy of the Kuznets Curve. Review of Development Economics, Vol. 6, pp. 183-203, 2002. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=312849

James A. Robinson (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Department of Government ( email )

1737 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-496-2839 (Phone)
617-495-8292 (Fax)

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

London
United Kingdom

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Daron Acemoglu

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics ( email )

50 Memorial Drive
Room E52-380b
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States
617-253-1927 (Phone)
617-253-1330 (Fax)

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Downloads
30
Abstract Views
1,675
PlumX Metrics