Collin Constantine & Giorgos Gouzoulis
COLLIN CONSTANTINE & GIORGOS GOUZOULIS
Small Group Project 2021
This research looks at the cases of Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago – extreme examples of trade openness – and employs a mixed-methods approach to understand the drivers of their functional income distribution. We are especially interested in how trade openness, finance, remittances, ethnic and gender diversity affect their wage shares. This is an important departure from the existing literature, which largely focuses on advanced countries and the class dimension of income inequality. To this end, a burgeoning body of empirical work –pooled statistical analyses – provides compelling evidence on how broader economic liberalisation has contributed to rising income inequalities during the last four decades. However, this empirical approach of panel studies overlooks numerous cross and intra-regional institutional diversities that regulate functional income inequality. Our times series empirical approach, which is combined with historicised comparative political economy analyses, is a small step in making the case for country-level studies, to better understand how countries with different politico-socio-economic institutions can produce similar or different inequality dynamics. In our view, the two island case studies can offer a nuanced understanding of the key issues relating to the globalisation-inequality nexus, and social stratification and income inequality. For example, in our research, we motivate the history of our two country studies to identify those institutional arrangements that maintained extreme openness and social cohesion. Finally, this study is the first step in a larger research project that examines income inequality dynamics in a number of developing regions. The workshop event of this project brings together global thinkers in the field of income inequality, and we hope this nurture new academic collaborations and joint research grant applications.