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Vamsi Vakulabharanam University of Hyderabad, India Rethinking Development and Inequality: Insights from the Asian Experience (Presentation for AGW, 2013)

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Presentation on theme: "Vamsi Vakulabharanam University of Hyderabad, India Rethinking Development and Inequality: Insights from the Asian Experience (Presentation for AGW, 2013)"— Presentation transcript:

1 Vamsi Vakulabharanam University of Hyderabad, India Rethinking Development and Inequality: Insights from the Asian Experience (Presentation for AGW, 2013)

2 Why rethink Development and Inequality?  Long-term changes in within-country inequality (especially) inadequately understood so far. Focus here on time-series, not cross-sectional analyses.  A continued search for simple (linear or non-linear), secular patterns of change may not be the appropriate way forward.  My contribution – a coherent and novel framework through which this relation can be recast. Different from the mainstream, also synthesizes the Asian story.

3 Pre-Occupation with Kuznets Curve  Kuznets - Non-mechanistic, thoughtful and tentative (Also emphasized social and political factors).  Later thinkers made it mechanistic. The inverted U hypothesis became a law. Cross-sectional results used to interpret dynamic changes (e.g. Ahluwalia 1976).  Need to go beyond Kuznets curve as there is overwhelming anomalous evidence - e.g. East Asia (post-1950), Developed World (post-1970).  Attempts to see Kuznets patterns despite this (e.g. Kanbur 2011). Lot of incoherence.

4 UK Inequality:

5 UK Inequality Since 1961

6 United States Inequality

7 Japanese Inequality

8 Mainstream Analyses of Inequality (In response to these anomalies)  Focus shifts from macro-analyses to micro-studies or short-period analyses of inequality or more sophisticated attempts to establish a Kuznets pattern? (e.g. Banerjee and Duflo 2003; see Weil (2004); Ray (1999), ch. 7 for a textbook survey on Kuznets curve).  Physical Capital/Wealth differences across people/groups /regions.  Human Capital differences across individuals/groups and technological change.  Spatial/Sectoral Differences, (e.g. City vs. Countryside; Manufacturing vs. Services)

9 Possibilities for New Thinking?  Focus of my reflections today: To understand changes in inequality within countries, more than the levels of inequality, from a macro-framework. Within-Country inequality dynamics as opposed to Between-Country dynamics. Analyze East, Southeast and South Asian experiences – which have an interesting recent history of development and inequality. Generalize from the Asian Experience after 1950s to a more durable and macro understanding of the relation between development and inequality. What is the Asian experience?

10 Japanese Inequality Since 1960

11 Korean Inequality Since 1960s

12 Malaysian Inequality Since 1958

13 Chinese Inequality Since 1978

14 Indian Inequality Since 1960

15 What is the Asian Experience Since 1950s?  Not entirely homogenous, but there are strong similarities.  Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, China and India witnessed a U shaped evolution of inequality since 1950s. (Like the US, UK and other developed countries!)  How to make sense of this? Local Political Economy. Global Political Economy.

16 Local Political Economy 1: The Japanese Case  Decline in inequality post WWII: Extensive bombing of cities like Tokyo and Osaka. Tax reforms: Taxes on the rich, and estate taxes. Zaibatsu dissolution and reduction of top incomes. Rural land reforms and agricultural price management. Interventionist and progressive state.  Rise in inequality post-1980: Two-tier labor market deepens. Contract employment rises. Capital becomes footloose. Financialization; Asset booms and crash in the early ‘90s. Privatization and Deregulation.

17 Local Political Economy 2: The Korean Case  Overall trend of declining inequality between 1960s and early 1990s. Land Reforms and equalization in rural areas. Massive increase in urban employment through growth in manufacturing. In the 1980s, progressive labor movement. Rural-Urban gap kept low. Interventionist state.  Rising inequality since 1990s. Strengthening of Chaebols in the preceding period. Significant deregulation, two tier structure of the labor market. Skill- biased technical change. Polarization and Flexibilization; Low Union Density. Formation of a class enclave in Seoul (Gangnam ?) and other cities.

18 Local Political Economy 3: The Malaysian Case  Rising inequality ( ) Laissez Faire Policies continued from British Colonial times. Severe inequality among ethnic communities. Malay community at the bottom but had political power.  Declining inequality ( ) New Economic Policy 1970 (post-1969 race riots) Reduces inter-ethnic inequality through affirmative action.  Rising inequality ( ) Neoliberal economic policies introduced. Flexibilization in the labor market and financialization. Rural Urban gap shoots up. Intra-ethnic inequality increases. A Malay rich class consolidates. Inequality is of a class form.

19 Local Political Economy 4: The Chinese Case  Declining inequality: s  Waves of land reforms in the 1950s, and again in  Wage income equalization in urban areas.  Early reforms after 1978 reduced the rural-urban income gap and reduced inequality.  The decade of 1980s was high growth with equality.  Rising Inequality: Late 1980s-2012  Previous period consolidated a powerful political class that also began to venture into business after reforms.  Post-1990s, processes of primitive accumulation, massive low wage migration, deregulated business structure, entry of foreign and private capital. Capital–labor balance shifts towards former.  Rural-urban gap shot up to a historical high.

20 Local Political Economy 5: The Indian Case  Overall declining trend between 1950s and 1990 Overall, progressive regime, although land reforms failed. In the 1970s, inequality rose due to Green Revolution and industrial stagnation (slower employment generation). 1980s saw broad-based growth with incomes of all classes rising rapidly.  Rising trend since 1990s Consolidation of a class enclave, especially from 1980s onwards (capital–professional classes-bureaucracy-politician) combine. Agriculture left behind (agrarian distress – thousands of farmer suicides). Growth in employment mainly in the informal sector – the gap widens.

21 Global Factors 1: Regimes of Capitalism and Inequality  Changes in inequality may be governed by changes in the deeper underlying dynamics of capitalism - the idea of ‘regimes’ and their crises. For instance, two regimes of capitalism –  A Keynesian Welfarist/Interventionist regime between 1940s and 1970/80s.  A Neo-liberal market-oriented economic regime between 1970/80s and 2000s.  What is a regime?

22 Inequality and Regimes (contd…)  What are the deeper imperatives that are driving inequality in these different regimes of capitalism?  Circuits of capital: Individual Capitalist Circuit: M-C1-C2-M1;  Two stages: 1. Profit Creation (M-C2); 2. Profit Realization (C2-M1); At a systemic level too, Profits are created in stage 1; They are realized by the capitalist class in stage 2; Interruptions/slowdowns in either of these two stages can cause global and national crises.

23 Inequality and Regimes (contd…)  Stage 1 changes may cause profitability crises; Stage 2 interruptions are aggregate demand crises.  History of the last 150 years appears to be an oscillation between regimes produced by stage 1 and stage 2 crises. Solution to a crisis seems to produce the other regime and a macro theory that is suitable. Long Depression ( ) – Profitability crisis. Great Depression of 1930s (Aggregate Demand Crisis) Stagflation of 1970s (Profitability Crisis) Great Recession of (Aggregate Demand Crisis)

24 Medium Term Crises Since 1850s

25 Inequality and Regimes (contd…) Post-Great Depression ( )  Institutional changes to sustain increases in aggregate demand.  Welfare state and trade unions ensured that workers’ fall- back improved. Interventionist states in developing Asia.  Demand management policies.  Footloose capital was reined in. Executive compensation under check.  Inequality showed a decline in most countries.  Wage increases continued despite slowdown in productivity growth after late 1960s. With oil price increases, Profits were increasingly squeezed.

26 Inequality and Regimes (contd…) Post-Profitability Crisis ( )  Attacks on welfare state and trade unions. Intensified search for destinations with low wages. Fallback declines.  Capital becomes footloose. ‘Financialization’, more dominant. Executive compensation grows unrestrained. Accumulation by dispossession (transfers from public or commons to private) and through speculation. Rich get much richer, working poor see little improvement. Inequality rises.  Inadequate Aggregate Demand: Temporary solutions found in asset bubbles, credit provision. Not sustainable. Post-Great Recession?

27 Inequality and Regimes... Conclusion 1  The idea that I am working with is that predominantly it is the deeper, systemic logic of a particular regime of capitalism that determines inequality dynamics: There cannot be a singular (even non-linear) long-term trend of inequality. It is important to look at the dynamics of capitalist regimes. Oscillations of the previous 130 years may or may not continue. Outcomes are determined as much by class struggle and other political dynamics as the deeper systemic/economic imperative. On regimes of capitalism, there is a lot of literature already from the French regulation school (e.g. Aglietta 2000), and Social Structures of Accumulation school (McDonough, Reich, Kotz. 2009).

28 Global Factors 2: World Systemic Changes (Marx-Braudel-Arrighi Hypothesis)  There are other cycles that are longer than the ‘regimes.’  Sustained long periods of capitalist expansion (Iberian- Genoese, Dutch-centered, British-centered and US- centered) during the era of European Dominance.  The circuit that characterizes each of these cycles is also M-C-M;

29 Global Factors 2  Different Interpretation: In the initial phase of a long-term cycle, capital is in money form. In the next phase, it constantly takes on the productive or commodity form (trade and production). The last phase sees capital “financializing” itself, returning to the money form. Implication 1: Increased instability in the last phase; Implication 2: Increased inequality - Industrial workers may lose jobs and may not be able to retrain. Certain classes of workers privileged. Financial/speculative classes gain. Implication 3: Eventual change of hegemon;

30 Conclusion  What does the Asian Experience teach us? Global and local political economy both important to understand the relation between inequality and development. Strong Interventionist states gave way to states that facilitate the interests of capital. Rising urban Inequality and rising rural-urban gap - keys to understanding the rising inequality phases. Global Regimes of capitalism come with specific regimes of inequality. There is evidence for oscillation between two kinds. World System Changes and the rise of Finance Capital has significant implications for inequality. Age of Uncertainty?


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