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Mass Consumption, Exclusion, and Unemployment


Foellmi, Reto; Zweimüller, Joseph (2006). Mass Consumption, Exclusion, and Unemployment. Working paper series / Institute for Empirical Research in Economics No. 296, University of Zurich.

Abstract

We introduce non-homothetic preferences into a general equilibrium model of monopolistic competition and explore the impact of income inequality on the medium-run macroeconomic equilibrium. We find that (i) a sufficiently high extent of inequality divides the economy into mass consumption sectors (where firms charge low prices and hire manynworkers) and exclusive sectors (where firms charge high prices and hire few workers). (ii)nHigh inequality may lead to a situation of underemployment and that underemployment could be ”Keynesian” in the sense that it cannot be cured by downward-flexible real wages.n(iii) A redistribution of income from rich to poor (by means of progressive taxation) leadsnto higher employment and such a redistribution is Pareto-improving. (iv) An exogenous increase in (minimum) real wages have a cost effect (that lets firms reduce their employment) and a purchasing power effect (that creates an incentive for mass production and raises aggregate employment) with ambiguous net effects. (v) The economy may featurenmultiple equilibria where full-employment and unemployment equilibria co-exist.

Abstract

We introduce non-homothetic preferences into a general equilibrium model of monopolistic competition and explore the impact of income inequality on the medium-run macroeconomic equilibrium. We find that (i) a sufficiently high extent of inequality divides the economy into mass consumption sectors (where firms charge low prices and hire manynworkers) and exclusive sectors (where firms charge high prices and hire few workers). (ii)nHigh inequality may lead to a situation of underemployment and that underemployment could be ”Keynesian” in the sense that it cannot be cured by downward-flexible real wages.n(iii) A redistribution of income from rich to poor (by means of progressive taxation) leadsnto higher employment and such a redistribution is Pareto-improving. (iv) An exogenous increase in (minimum) real wages have a cost effect (that lets firms reduce their employment) and a purchasing power effect (that creates an incentive for mass production and raises aggregate employment) with ambiguous net effects. (v) The economy may featurenmultiple equilibria where full-employment and unemployment equilibria co-exist.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Working Paper
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
Working Paper Series > Institute for Empirical Research in Economics (former)
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
Language:English
Date:July 2006
Deposited On:29 Nov 2011 22:47
Last Modified:12 Aug 2017 13:02
Series Name:Working paper series / Institute for Empirical Research in Economics
ISSN:1424-0459
Official URL:http://www.econ.uzh.ch/wp.html

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