On the impact of inequality on growth, human development, and governance
Inequality is a major international development challenge. This is so from an ethical perspective and because greater inequality is perceived to be detrimental to key socioeconomic and political outcomes. Still, informed debate requires clear evidence.
This article contributes by taking stock and providing an up-to-date overview of the current knowledge on the impact of income inequality, specifically on three important outcomes: (1) economic growth; (2) human development, with a focus on health and education as two of its dimensions; and (3) governance, with emphasis on democracy.
With particular attention to work in economics, which is especially developed on these topics, this article reveals that the existing evidence is somewhat mixed and argues for further in-depth empirical work across disciplines. It also points to explanations for the lack of consensus embedded in data quality and availability, measurement issues, and shortcomings of the different methods employed.
Finally, we suggest promising future research avenues relying on experimental work for microlevel analysis and reiterate the need for more region- and country-specific studies and improvements in the availability and reliability of data.