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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : European Journal of Political Economy, Volume 26, Issue 4, December 2010, Pages 488–505
Using the Standardized World Income Inequality Database, we examine if the KOF Index of Globalization and the Economic Freedom Index of the Fraser institute are related to within-country income inequality using panel data covering around 80 countries 1970–2005. Freedom to trade internationally is robustly related to inequality, also when adding several control variables and controlling for potential endogeneity using GMM. Social globalization and deregulation is also linked to inequality. Reforms towards economic freedom seem to increase inequality mainly in rich countries, and social globalization is more important in less developed countries. Monetary reforms, legal reforms and political globalization do not increase inequality.
Over the past 30 years, most countries around the world have experienced substantial increases in economic freedom and globalization. There is a prevalent belief that such changes may benefit economic growth, but at the expense of increased income inequality within countries. Regarding the first issue, the current consensus among researchers seems to be that economic freedom and globalization are indeed linked to economic growth (see, e.g., Berggren and Jordahl, 2005, Doucouliagos and Ulubasoglu, 2006 and Dreher, 2006).2 This paper examines the second question: are increases in economic freedom and globalization, sometimes broadly referred to as liberalization, associated with increasing income inequality within countries? Although participants in public debate on this topic generally have a clear opinion on the relationships, empirical evidence is surprisingly contradictory (cf. Berggren, 1999, Scully, 2002, Carter, 2007 and Dreher and Gaston, 2008). Knowledge is limited as to whether all types of liberalization and globalization have similar impacts on income distributions. Due to previous data limitations, empirical studies have also neglected the issue of how different dimensions of economic freedom and globalization influence income inequality at different development levels. Using Gini coefficients of household net income from Solt's (2008) recently developed Standardized World Income Inequality Database (SWIID) as our preferred inequality measure, we can construct a panel from 1970 through 2005 with more observations on within-country income inequality than do other studies in this area. This setup also allows for a rigorous analysis of the differential impact across rich and poor contexts and for the use of sophisticated techniques to handle possible endogeneity problems. To quantify globalization and economic freedom, we use the KOF Index of Globalization (KOF), developed and first used by Dreher (2006), and the Economic Freedom of the World Index (EFI) of Gwartney et al. (2008). We make use of the fact that both indices consist of several dimensions, allowing for an analysis of the impact of different types of liberalization and globalization on income inequality. By estimating a fixed-effect model of country-level income inequality as a function of the KOF and EFI indices, and employing a battery of robustness tests, our analysis arrives at several findings. First, the analysis supports the notion that policy reforms favoring trade openness have on average increased income inequality in recent decades. Exploring the relationship at different levels of development, however, indicates that, in line with theoretical predictions, this significant relationship only appears in middle- and high-income contexts. Second, findings repeatedly also indicate that policy reforms promoting deregulation and social globalization on average have a non-equalizing distributional impact. Moreover, the coefficient of economic globalization is positive, but is sensitive to the exclusion of certain countries from the sample. Third, in estimating a dynamic model, consistent in the case of endogenous variables (Arellano and Bover, 1995 and Blundell and Bond, 1998), we again confirm that trade liberalization and economic globalization increase income inequality.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
In short, our analysis has established that the fourth dimension of the Economic Freedom Index (freedom to trade internationally) has a robust positive effect on within-country income inequality. In many specifications, we have also found significant positive effects from deregulation (the fifth dimension of the economic freedom), and social globalization as measured by the second dimension of the KOF Index. Dividing the sample according to development levels suggest that inequality effects from economic freedom appear in relatively rich countries, while the effect of social globalization comes from middle- and low-income countries. The estimates of the EFI4 coefficient are rather stable at approximately 0.7, and a two standard deviation increase in EFI4 increases Gini inequality with 0.22 standard deviations (though the effect is more than twice as big in the richest 28 countries). This effect is comparable to that found by Carter (2007), who found that a two standard deviation increase in the aggregated Economic Freedom Index was related to a Gini-increase of a third standard deviation. As a concrete example, we note that Sweden increased its EFI4 score by 1.4 points between 1980 and 2000. According to estimated coefficients in the full sample, this explains a quarter of Sweden's inequality increase from 21 to 25 points in the SWIID data. Using estimates for high-income countries only, however, the increase in EFI4 explains more than half of the inequality increase in Sweden during this period. Finally, it bears emphasizing that many types of liberalization studied here have no significant effect on income inequality. Only among the richest countries do we find that smaller government is linked to higher inequality. Improvements in the monetary system as measured by EFI3 can probably also be done without increasing inequality. Perhaps most interestingly, legal structure as measured by EFI2 typically has a negative sign (though rarely significant). At the same time, Berggren and Jordahl (2005) demonstrate that EFI2 is in fact the most robust component of the Economic Freedom Index when it comes to explaining economic growth. This finding suggests that building a well-functioning legal system may offer a way to promote growth without inducing negative distributional consequences.