(DP 1979-16) The Distribution of Income and Wealth: A Survey of Philippine Research

Mahar K. Mangahas, Bruno Barros


Recent economic growth has not been accompanied by social stability; thus equity-oriented research is of high social priority. A more just distribution of material well-being is not only a valid objective in itself but also a means of attaining more economic growth. The alleged trade-off between equality and growth is quantitatively minor. Many inequalities are not necessarily socially harmful, and it is important to distinguish between inequities and inequalities. Unfortunately, the empirical research on inequality (a) has succeeded in explaining only 1/5 of aggregate inequality, and (b) has focus on income determinants most of which are unlikely to create the resentments which foster social instability. This problem is due to deficiencies in the distributional data. The data should balance the present preoccupation with human assets with detailed information on property; should be oriented towards comparisons of social groups; and should include some variables designed for frequent and prompt monitoring. Improvements in the data are the key to placing the status of the war on inequity high in the social consciousness. There is a wide range of possible policies for improving equity, some of which the state has attempted to implement more than others. On the basis of overall results, we must conclude that past policies and programs have not been widen enough in scope and/or not intense enough in degree. One problem is that these policies have not been formulated and evolved on an integrated basis. The development plans, for instance, use a production or growth orientation to unify the various sectoral and regional programs; but it should be technically possible to use an equity or anti-poverty orientation as an integrating factor as well. Researchers should now shift from analysis of economic differentials to evaluation of past equity-pertinent policies and to design of new equity-oriented ones.


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