Desigualdade e crescimento económico

Mais uma staff discussion note do Fundo Monetário Internacional que promete dar que falar. Redistribution, inequality and growth utiliza a mais recente (e abrangente) base de dados acerca de redistribuição e desigualdade para perceber a relação entre estas duas variáveis e o crescimento económico, e confirma algumas das conclusões que têm vindo, pouco a pouco, a emergir no campo da nova investigação sobre desigualdade. Um tema a seguir.

First, inequality continues to be a robust and powerful determinant both of the pace of medium-term growth and of the duration of growth spells, even controlling for the size of redistributive transfers. Thus, the conclusions from Berg and Ostry (2011) would seem to be robust, even strengthened. It would still be a mistake to focus on growth and let inequality take care of itself, not only because inequality may be ethically undesirable but also because the resulting growth may be low and unsustainable.

And second, there is surprisingly little evidence for the growth-destroying effects of fiscal redistribution at a macroeconomic level. We do find some mixed evidence that very large redistributions may have direct negative effects on growth duration, such that the overall effect—including the positive effect on growth through lower inequality—may be roughly growth-neutral. But for non-extreme redistributions, there is no evidence of any adverse direct effect. The average redistribution, and the associated reduction in inequality, is thus associated with higher and more durable growth.

We need to be mindful about over-interpreting these results, especially for policy purposes. It is hard to go from these sorts of correlations to firm statements about causality. We have not accounted for the possible effects that redistribution may have on market inequality. We have emphasized the uncertainty caused by the scarcity of reliable data, particularly about redistribution. Our measure of redistribution captures only direct taxes and subsidies, for example, so we shed no direct light on the redistributive effects of in-kind government provision of health and education (…) We nonetheless see an important positive conclusion from our look at the big picture. Extreme caution about redistribution—and thus inaction—is unlikely to be appropriate in many cases. On average, across countries and over time, the things that governments have typically done to redistribute do not seem to have led to bad growth outcomes, unless they were extreme. And the resulting narrowing of inequality helped support faster and more durable growth, apart from ethical, political, or broader social considerations.

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