Income Inequality and the Composition of Public Debt

Project description

Purpose - – The purpose of this paper is to examine the redistributive effect of domestic public debt: lenders to the government lie on the higher end of the income distribution, but the burden of debt financing falls on the entire tax base, to the extent that taxes are used to service debt. Because domestic debt is typically held by domestic lenders, this involves a redistribution of resources. Design/methodology/approach - – The author uses cross-country panel data on debt composition, and run regressions of income inequality, as measured by the Gini coefficient, using various specifications, controlling for a variety of macroeconomic, fiscal and political variables. Findings - – The author finds that the composition of public debt is consistently a significant determinant of income inequality: the domestic share of public debt is regressive and significant across all specifications, even controlling for total and external debt servicing, political conflict, corruption and a variety of government spending variables. Research limitations/implications - – The data span 18 years (1990-2007) which means that long-run effects are hard to track. While the author has a good mix in the sample of observations from low-, middle- and high-income countries, the author is constrained in the choice of countries by the availability of data on inequality and on the composition of public debt. Originality/value - – This is the first paper to examine the composition of public debt in terms of domestic and external debt, and any bearing it may have on income inequality. The finding is also new for both the public debt and income inequality literatures: cross-country panel data are consistent with the belief that domestic debt redistributes resources from the entire tax base to wealthy holders of government debt in a way that external debt does not.

Researchers

First name Last name Gender Rank Affiliated Institution Country
Nisreen Salti Male American University of Beirut Lebanon

Bio:

Website

 

Scientific field

Economics
 

Start Year

2014
 

End Year

2015
 

Social impact

Are you interested in disseminating your research work outside the academic institutions?

No

Are there institutions/organizations contacted you to disseminate your research project?

No

How did you disseminate your research work outside academic institutions?

Workshops

What obstacles have you faced as you tried to facilitate the social impact of your research?

Time availability