How long does economic injustice last?

By David Miles

Published in National Institute Economic Review


This article assesses whether economic injustices that took place in the past still have significant implications for the material welfare of people many years later. That issue is central to the question of how fair is the distribution of wealth and income today. It is also relevant to issues of reparations for past wrongs. I find that in standard neoclassical models of economic growth the lingering effects of injustice from more than 70 years ago are generally small. But effects can last much longer once we allow for impacts of past injustices to be transmitted through human capital accumulation as well as physical capital.

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