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Excerpt] This paper presents a welfare economic analysis of the distributional consequences of growth, a problem that has attracted much attention from development economists of late. We shall explore the similarities and differences between the absolute income and poverty and relative inequality approaches for a general dualistic development model and for three stylized special cases. It will be shown that these approaches are not always in agreement and, more disturbingly, that the most notable discrepancy is found in the most relevant stylized model—growth via the transfer of population from a backward to an enlarging advanced sector. The fact of these discrepancies raises the important question of how to measure changing income distribution in a manner consistent with the judgments we wish to make about the alleviation of absolute poverty and changes in relative income inequality. A general welfare function is formulated to address these issues. Recent controversies over who received the benefits of growth in two less developed countries—Brazil and India—are examined in these terms.


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© Oxford University Press. Final version published as: Fields, G. S. (1979). A welfare economic approach to growth and distribution in the dual economy. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 93(3), 325-353. doi: 10.2307/1883162
Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

Suggested Citation
Fields, G. S. (1979). A welfare economic approach to growth and distribution in the dual economy [Electronic version]. Retrieved [insert date], from Cornell University, ILR School site: