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Chapter Summary

In many of the advanced industrial countries the 'modern economy' opened up new opportunities for social mobility, resulting in levels of economic inequality that are now considerably lower than in the 19th century. Yet, modern economic growth did not lead to a sustained decline in levels of personal income inequality in Latin America. But does this also imply that Latin American inequality has been persistent since the colonial era? To tackle this question, three presumptions are departed. First, it is not the pace of economic growth, but rather the nature of economic development that determines whether an economic transition process comes along with major changes in inequality in the long run. Second, changes in the degree of factor mobility are the prime determinant of sustainable changes in the distribution of assets, income and wealth. And third, institutional changes are the ultimate cause of changes in the degree of factor mobility.

Keywords: economic transition process; factor mobility; Latin America; modern economy; personal income inequality; social mobility

10.1163/ej.9789004175914.i-294.55
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