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Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Economics

Year Degree Awarded

Spring 2014

First Advisor

James K. Boyce

Second Advisor

Mwangi wa Githinji

Third Advisor

Peter Skott

Subject Categories

Growth and Development | Income Distribution | Political Economy

Abstract

This dissertation examines the evolution of inequality during the development process. Specifically, the study will focus on two factors that crucially in influence the evolution of distribution: 1) industrialization and urbanization, and 2) agrarian structures and land inequality. The dissertation consists of three essays: The first essay examines the impact of the initial conditions of agrarian structures on income inequality over the long run. It develops a model showing that at the same level of national income, countries with more unequal land distribution can be expected to experience greater agglomeration in the urban sector. The excess labor in the urban sector of these countries is added to the subsistence sector that functions as a reserve army of labor and lowers wage shares in the urban capitalist sector. Hence, higher land inequality also increases urban income inequality. The essay's theoretical model is also supported by an empirical analysis that finds that the level of pre-urbanization land inequality has a significant impact on determining today's income inequality.

The second essay applies the theoretical arguments developed in the first essay, by means of a comparative analysis of the relationship between land and income inequality in Turkey, Korea, and Brazil. The essay evaluates the existing literature on the impact of agrarian structure on Turkey's income distribution. Turkey is compared with two extreme cases: Brazil, which historically has a very inegalitarian agrarian structure, and Korea, which experienced a very redistributive land reform following World War II.

The third essay examines the validity of the Kuznets hypothesis. Unlike the majority of the literature on the Kuznets Curve, this essay first scrutinizes the arguments suggested in Kuznets's own work. The essay focuses on three aspects: a) changing weights of sectors, b) informal employment, and c) education inequality. Panel data techniques are also used to empirically test the validity of the mechanisms that might lead to an inverted-U relationship between income and inequality.

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