Finance and Inequality in a Panel of US States

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We examine the impact of sector-based reform on income inequality, concentrating on state banking deregulation in the USA, for which we employ annual balanced panel data from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, covering the period from 1970 to 2000, for our baseline analysis. The estimation strategy exploits the variation across states and years in the enactment of laws that remove restrictions on in-state bank branch geographical expansion and cross-state bank business operational expansion to compute the effects of developments in the financial sector on income inequality. We find evidence that inequality on average decreases with within-state branching reform, whereas it on average increases with between-state banking deregulation. Utilizing five different measures of inequality (top decile income share, Atkinson index, the Gini coefficient, relative mean deviation, and Theil entropy index), we determine that our finding materially depends on which measure of income inequality is being considered. We argue that this has not been stressed in the previous literature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2739-2795
Number of pages57
JournalEmpirical Economics
Issue number5
Early online date3 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2021


  • Banking deregulation
  • Finance
  • Financial sector laws
  • Income inequality
  • United States


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