Paul Lachine

¿Reduce la pobreza la redistribución del ingreso?

NUEVA YORK – Muchos izquierdistas desconfían de la idea de que el crecimiento económico ayuda a reducir la pobreza en los países en desarrollo. Ellos argumentan que las políticas orientadas al crecimiento tratan de aumentar el producto nacional bruto, y no tratan de aliviar la pobreza, y que la redistribución es la clave para la reducción de la pobreza. Estas afirmaciones, sin embargo, no han sido demostradas con pruebas fehacientes.

Desde la década de 1950, los economistas del desarrollo han entendido que el crecimiento del PIB no es sinónimo de mayor bienestar. Pero, incluso antes de su independencia, los líderes de la India consideraron el crecimiento como esencial para la reducción de la pobreza y el aumento del bienestar social. En términos económicos, el crecimiento fue un instrumento, no un objetivo; es decir, el medio por el cual los verdaderos objetivos, como ser la reducción de la pobreza y el avance social de las masas, se lograrían.

Un cuarto de siglo atrás, señalé las dos formas distintas en las que el crecimiento económico tendría dicho efecto. En primer lugar, el crecimiento atraería a los pobres hacia un empleo remunerado, y consecuentemente los ayudaría a salir de la pobreza. Mayores ingresos harían que ellos puedan aumentar su gasto personal en educación y salud (tal como parece haber sucedido en la India durante su reciente período de crecimiento acelerado).

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