This paper presents a novel technique to measure and compare the redistributive capacity of observed tax (or transfer) policies. The technique is based on income distribution simulations and controls for differences in pre-tax income distributions. It assumes that the only information on the pre-tax distribution available in each country-year is the Gini coefficient and the mean (GDP per capita). We illustrate the technique with an application to the personal income tax, using a dataset of 108 countries over the 2007-2018 period.
The linearity of the relationship between income inequality and economic development has been long questioned. While theory provides arguments for which the shape of relationship may be positive for low levels of inequality and negative for high ones, most of the empirical literature assumes a linear specification finding conflicting results. Employing an innovative empirical approach robust to endogeneity, we find pervasive evidence of nonlinearities. In particular, similar to the debt overhang literature, we identify an inequality overhang level in that the slope of the relationship between income inequality and economic development switches from positive to negative at a net Gini of about 27 percent. We also find that in an environment characterized by widespread financial inclusion and high income concentration, rising income inequality has a larger negative impact on economic development because banks may curtail credit to customers at the lower end of the income distribution. On the positive side, a sufficiently high female labor participation can act as a shock absorber reducing such negative impact, possibly through a more efficient allocation of resources.
Growth in sub-Saharan Africa has weakened after more than a decade of solid growth, although this overall outlook masks considerable variation across the region. Some countries have been negatively affected by falling prices of their main commodity exports. Oil-exporting countries, including Nigeria and Angola, have been hit hard by falling revenues and the resulting fiscal adjustments, while middle-income countries such as Ghana, South Africa, and Zambia are also facing unfavorable conditions. This October 2015 report discusses the fiscal and monetary policy adjustments necessary for these countries to adapt to the new environment. Chapter 2 looks at competitiveness in the region, analyzing the substantial trade integration that accompanied the recent period of high growth, and policy actions to nurture new sources of growth. Chapter 3 looks at the implications for the region of persistently high income and gender inequality and ways to reduce them.
This paper tests the theoretical framework developed by North, Wallis and Weingast (2009) on the transition from closed to open access societies. They posit that societies need to go through three doorsteps: (i) the establishment of rule of law among elites; (ii) the adoption of perpetually existing organizations; and (iii) the political control of the military. We identify indicators reflecting these doorsteps and graphically test the correlation between them and a set of political and economic variables. Finally, through Identification through Heteroskedasticity we test these relationships econometrically. The paper broadly confirms the logic behind the doorsteps as necessary steps in the transition to open access societies. The doorsteps influence economic and political processes, as well as each other, with varying intensity. We also identify income inequality as a potentially important force leading to social change.
Mr. Paul Cashin, Ms. Catherine A Pattillo, Ms. Ratna Sahay, and Mr. Paolo Mauro
This paper provides a brief and selective overview of research on the links between macroeconomic policies and poverty reduction. Using the Human Development Index as a measure of well-being, the progress made by 100 countries during 1975–98 is presented, and its association with macroeconomic factors is explored. Several potential avenues for future research are also outlined.
This paper makes a new attack on the old problem of measuring horizontal inequity in the income tax. Local measures of inequality of posttax income among pretax equals are proposed, which reflect alternative value judgments about the nature and magnitude of an inequity. These measures are aggregated into global indices. The welfare gain from eliminating horizontal inequity revenue-neutrally, and the revenue gain from eliminating it welfare-neutrally, in each case preserving the vertical performance of the tax, are captured by these indices. Difficulties of implementation arising from the “identification problem” are discussed. A variation in the methodology validates banding the income data to create “close equals” groups. Simulations show that the banding procedure works well. A range of potentially fruitful applications is discussed.
Economic activity in sub-Saharan Africa has weakened markedly. To be sure, growth—at 3¾ percent this year and 4¼ percent in 2016—still remains higher than in many other emerging and developing regions of the world. Still, the strong growth momentum evident in the region in recent years has dissipated in quite a few cases.
In recent years the sub-Saharan African region has experienced strong real GDP growth and substantial trade integration. However, growth in sub-Saharan Africa’s trade volumes has not kept up with growth in the volume of global trade during this period and its trade imbalances have begun to rise in recent years. Meanwhile, the drivers of growth since the mid-1990s—improved policies, increased aid, debt relief, abundant global liquidity, and high global commodity prices—have started to dissipate. Moving forward, to sustain rapid growth the region will need to diversify away from commodities, increase export sophistication, and integrate into global value chains. This chapter assesses how competitiveness indicators in sub-Saharan Africa have evolved, and on this basis asks if the region is well placed to diversify its export base and sustain growth. It also discusses policy options to improve competitiveness.
Sub-Saharan Africa has among the highest levels of inequality—both income and gender—in the world, even after accounting for the lower levels of per capita income in the region. With growing international evidence that such inequality can impede macroeconomic stability and growth (Box 3.1), this chapter considers factors behind high levels of inequality and how they differ from the experience in other parts of the world, and discusses policy options for reducing inequality and raising sustainable growth.