Inequality in the Third World: A Reexamination

  • Ravenhill J
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In their recent article in Comparative Political Studies, Kohli et al. (1984) attempt to test what they term "developmental," "statist," and "neo-Marxist" explanations of income inequalities in the Third World. They conclude that the "statist" approach provides the best explanation of short-run changes in inequality, these being the product of the nature and policies of the state in question: "Authoritarian-exclusionary regimes tend to worsen inequalities over the short run, while moredemocratic states tend to stabilize them" (1984: 283). Their analysis, however, presents a caricature of the developmental and dependency approaches, uses variables that do not adequately capture their hypotheses, and rejects them for failing to cope adequately with short-run changes that the approaches would not claim to explain. Support for the "statist" explanation is found only through manipulating the data in an unacceptable manner. A reexamination of the data shows that there are no statistically significant relationships between regime type and short-term changes in income inequality for the countries included in their sample.

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  • John Ravenhill

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