Income distribution unfairness in Argentina: re-interpreting populism

QI Chuanjun1

(1.Institute of Latin America Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences)

【Abstract】Income distribution unfairness in Argentina, in essence, has profound and solid historical and cultural causes among which the long-term existence of populism is a major one. Firstly, personality cult is so prevalent in the country that people always welcome a political figure who is paramount and widely admired when social problems emerge. Secondly, nationalism is so widely-shared in the country that once there is economic recession or social unrest it is attributed to external factors while internal problems are usually ignored. Thirdly, mass movement is so popular in the country that when their economic rights change, people pay more attention to their own political rights while ignoring their social rights. Fourthly, people trust the government more than the market, manifested as strong statism. Fifthly, economic development model is subject to political purposes. As a result, populism leads to income distribution unfairness in three ways: economic stagnation caused by populism continuously worsens income distribution; the economic development strategy adopted by the populists makes the poverty problem increasingly serious; inter-generational income distribution deteriorates because of ignorance of social rights by the populists.

【Keywords】 income distribution; Argentina; populism; middle-income trap;


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(Translated by ZHANG yan)


    [1]. [1] Argentina has no official data of household income survey until 1974, and thus accurate indicators of income distribution are unavailable. According to the estimation in some studies based on national accounts, Argentina has fallen into the trap of serious unfair income distribution from the 1950s or earlier. See Richard Weisskoff, “Income Distribution and Economic Growth in Puerto Rico,Argentina,and Mexico”, Review of Income and Wealth, Volume 16, Issue 4, pages 303-332, March 1970。 [^Back]

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    [11]. [1]Eliana Cardoso and Ann Helwege, “Populism,Profligacy,and Redistribution”, The Macroeconomics of Populism in Latin America, edited by Rudiger Dornbusch and Sebastian Edwards, University of Chicago Press, January 1991, p. 67. [^Back]

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    [13]. [2]Ana Paula Di Giovambattista,Demian Panigo, “Widening Social Security Coverage. Evaluating Income Distribution Effects of Argentina's PROG. R. ES. AR”, Coyuntura Económica. Vol. XLIV, No. 2, Diciembre de 2014, pp. 105-126. [^Back]

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This Article


CN: 11-3799/F

Vol , No. 06, Pages 77-91+6-7

November 2015


Article Outline


  • 1 General interpretation of income distribution unfairness
  • 3 Formation and performance of populism in Argentina
  • 4 Paradox of populism in correcting income distribution unfairness
  • 5 Conclusion
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