Growth with equity in East Asia: reversed or returned?

Crawford School of Public Policy | Arndt-Corden Department of Economics

Event details

ACDE Seminar

Date & time

Tuesday 10 April 2018


Coombs Seminar Room B, Coombs Building 9, Fellows Road, ANU


Stephen Howes, Crawford School of Public Policy, ANU.

This paper notes some important facts that are inconsistent with the argument that East Asia’s ‘growth with equity’ has been replaced with ‘growth with inequity’ via a great reversal. Several East Asian economies seem to show inequality first stable or falling, then rising, and then once again stable or falling. Thailand and Malaysia show a completely different ‘inequity-equity’ trend. Except for China, changes in inequality in East Asia are relatively modest, such that two East Asian economies still have the lowest market Ginis in the world, and four are in the bottom ten. Finally, there is a large range in turning points in countries experiencing reversals. The ‘equity-inequity-equity’ pattern revealed by several East Asian countries contradicts the claim in the 2018 World Inequality Report that ‘income inequality is on the rise in nearly all countries’. More generally, it would seem that there is no set of cross-country factors that adequately explain the complex inequality trends evident across East Asia.

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