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Working Paper

Will income inequality cause a middle-income trap in Asia?

A middle-income trap could occur not only if there is a delay in shifting the economy toward a productivity-driven structure, but also if there is a worsening of income distribution.We consider this in line with the theories of development economics and through a quantitative analysis.

By: Date: October 9, 2013 Topic: Global Economics & Governance

The Asian economy is expected to realise favourable growth during the first half of this century, but there is no guarantee. There is a discussion about a ‘middle-income trap’, which refers to a country that has realised rapid growth to become a middle-income country but is unable to grow further. A middle-income trap could occur not only if there is a delay in shifting the economy toward a productivity-driven structure, but also if there is a worsening of income distribution.We consider this in line with the theories of development economics and through a quantitative analysis. The relationship between income inequality and the trap can be explained by the Kuznets hypothesis and the basic-needs approach. Our quantitative analysis supports the Kuznets hypothesis, and indicates that,although a low-income country can accelerate its economic growth with the worsening of income distribution as an engine, a middle income country would experience a decreasing growth rate if it fails to narrow the income gap between the top and bottom income groups. The results also show that the basic-needs approach is also applicable in practice, and imply that the improvement of access to secondary education is important.

A sensitivity analysis for three Asian upper-middle-income countries(China, Malaysia and Thailand) also shows that the situation related to a middle-income trap is worse than average in China and Malaysia. These two countries, according to the result of the sensitivity analysis, should urgently improve access to secondary education and should implement income redistribution measures to develop high-tech industries, before their demographic dividends expire. Income redistribution includes the narrowing of rural urban income disparities, benefits to low-income individuals, direct income transfers, vouchers or free provision of education and health-care, and so on, but none of these are simple to implement.

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By: Michael Baltensperger Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance, Global Economics & Governance Date: January 14, 2019
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Podcast

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Deep Focus: Europe's auto industry and the global electric vehicle revolution

Bruegel fellows Reinhilde Veugelers and Simone Tagliapietra elaborate on the recent Policy Contribution they co-authored on the European automotive industry in the light of the global electric vehicle revolution.

By: The Sound of Economics Topic: Innovation & Competition Policy Date: January 8, 2019
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Towards a new social contract

This event will look at a a proposal for a new social contract put forward by the World Bank.

Speakers: Maurizio Bussolo, Zsolt Darvas, Ruby Gropas and Bernadette Ségol Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels
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Upcoming Event

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Is the European automotive industry ready for the global electric vehicle revolution?

How can Europe catch up on the global electric vehicle race?

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Policy Contribution

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This Policy Contribution investigates the position of the European automotive industry in a scenario in which electrification substantially progresses. Europe cannot follow China in the adoption of centrally-planned industrial policy measures. But it certainly can and should do more to stimulate the transformation of its automotive industry through more ambitious policies.

By: Gustav Fredriksson, Alexander Roth, Simone Tagliapietra and Reinhilde Veugelers Topic: Innovation & Competition Policy Date: December 20, 2018
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The author contributed to the new issue of 'The Russian Journal of Economics' with a paper on the global dimension of the inequality trends

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By: Bowen Call Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: November 12, 2018
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