Bonne et mauvaise inégalités

MILAN – La hausse des inégalités de revenus et de richesse dans de nombreux pays à travers le monde est une tendance de long terme, en place depuis au moins trois décennies. Mais l'attention qui lui est consacrée a considérablement augmenté depuis la crise financière de 2008 : lorsque la croissance est faible, l’augmentation des inégalités frappe plus fort.

La « vielle » théorie à propos de l'inégalité suppose que la redistribution par le biais du système fiscal affaiblit les incitations et compromet la croissance économique. Cependant, la relation entre inégalité et croissance est beaucoup plus complexe et multidimensionnelle que ce simple compromis ne suggère. L’existence de nombreux canaux d'influence et mécanismes de rétroaction fait qu’il est difficile de tirer des conclusions définitives.

Par exemple, les États-Unis et la Chine sont aujourd'hui les principales économies mondiales qui présentent la plus forte croissance. Les deux pays connaissent l’un comme l’autre des niveaux d'inégalité de revenus élevés et en augmentation. Bien que l'on ne doive pas en conclure que croissance et inégalité sont sans rapport ou corrélées positivement, l’affirmation sans réserve qui prétend que l'inégalité est néfaste pour la croissance ne concorde pas vraiment avec les faits.

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