Bending the Kuznets Curve - Wrenching and Levelling Forces during Agricultural Transformation in Taiwan and Chile

Detta är en avhandling från Almqvist & Wiksell International, PO Box 45022, SE - 104 30 Stockholm, Sweden

Sammanfattning: What are the effects of growth on equality in a long-term perspective? What are the effects of different patterns of equality on subsequent growth? And why are these questions relevant for the understanding of economic development? These are the overriding questions posed in the dissertation. They are addressed in the context of long-term change from economic backwardness to modern economic growth by examining the processes of agricultural transformation of two successful growth achievers -- Taiwan and Chile. In recent day empirical examinations of the growth-equality relationship, the so-called Kuznets-curve - that inequality initially increases before it declines - has been rejected on the grounds that the relationship does not appear in such systematic fashion. In assessing this latter-day comprehension, the author argues that the thrust of the Kuznets-curve is not its shape but the underlying forces at play during structural change. Such an approach then concentrates on the forces that wrench and level income distribution during structural change. As far as Taiwan and Chile are concerned, such forces have been, to different degrees, in constant struggle during their agricultural transformations. In the initially relatively equal income distribution in Taiwan, the dynamics of homogenous demand eased the wrenching forces of structural change despite population pressure and forceful industrialisation. Chile, on the other hand, starting from a wrenched situation, experienced aggravated wrenching and delayed dynamic change due to its lack of universal access to markets. When dynamic change eventually took place - after decades of forced institutional change - levelling forces outpaced the wrenching forces. The study proposes a causal analytical framework in which wrenching and levelling forces during long-term structural change may be identified and grasped. The framework includes the initial distribution of income as its organising principle . Since reliable longitudinal data of personal income distribution is unavailable, a wide range of variables, indicative of economic change in general and agricultural performance in particular, is put to use.

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