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Wealth inequality, democracy and economic freedom

Md. Rabiul Islam

Journal of Comparative Economics, 2018, vol. 46, issue 4, 920-935

Abstract: Using a novel panel data set from the Credit Suisse on the top wealth shares for 46 sample countries spanning 2000–2014, this paper empirically investigates to what extent wealth inequality influences economic freedom and whether this relationship is affected by the level of democracy. Economic freedom is measured by the Fraser Institute's economic freedom summary index as well as its five major sub-indices, such as government size, property rights, access to sound money, freedom to trade, and regulations. Wealth inequality is measured by the top wealth shares. Trade union density is used as an instrument for wealth inequality. Empirical results suggest that the rising wealth inequality significantly hampers overall economic freedom, property rights protection, freedom to trade, soundness of money and regulatory environment. Furthermore, this negative effect of wealth inequality is reinforced at a lower level of democracy. These findings are robust to alternative measures of wealth inequality, economic freedom, treatment for endogeneity, and model specification.

Keywords: Wealth inequality; Economic freedom; Democracy; Panel data (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: O15 O40 O50 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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Handle: RePEc:eee:jcecon:v:46:y:2018:i:4:p:920-935