Income Distribution, Growth, and Conflict: The Aggregate Demand Nexus

Özlem Onaran, Engelbert Stockhammer


This paper is a literature review on the recent Post-Keynesian empirical findings about the effect of income distribution on investment and growth in a variety of different countries and aims at discussing the policy implications of this literature. The core question is the following: Are actual economies wage-led or profit-led? Current orthodoxy implicitly assumes that they are profit-led, and thus supports the neoliberal policy agenda. The merit of the Post-Keynesian/Kaleckian models is that they highlight the dual function of wages as a component of aggregate demand as well as a cost item. If an economy is not profit-led, then there is room for policies targeting growth and income distribution simultaneously. However, the economies are indeed dynamic in the sense that beyond a point an economy can shift from a wage-led to a profit-led regime, with an intensified distributional conflict.

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