Political and Economic Inequality Insights from Philippine Data on Political Dynasties

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Ronald U. Mendoza
Miann S. Banaag


There is an extensive empirical literature on economic inequality, yet few studies examine its political underpinnings. This article contributes to the nascent literature in this area by developing and analyzing a new measure of political inequality. Drawing on a comprehensive provincial-level dataset on local government leadership in the Philippines, this article develops a political inequality index based on the concentration of elective positions among political dynasties. It then empirically examines the possible links among economic inequality, political inequality, and development outcomes across Philippine  provinces. This study finds that economic inequality displays a nonlinear relationship with indicators of human development—there is a positive correlation at lower levels of human development, and a negative correlation at higher levels. On the other hand, unlike
economic inequality, political inequality seems to be associated with weaker development outcomes, regardless of the level of development the province is in. This finding emphasizes how future research on political inequality could yield new insights into the persistence and depth of poverty, human development, and other forms of social and economic inequality. 

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Author Biographies

Ronald U. Mendoza

Ronald U. Mendoza is the dean of the Ateneo de Manila University School of Government in the Philippines, and can be reached via email at ronmendoza@post.harvard.edu

Miann S. Banaag

Miann S. Banaag was a statistician at the Ateneo Policy Center, a think tank housed in the Ateneo de Manila University School of Government in the Philippines.