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Wealth Inequality and Financial Inclusion: Evidence from South African Tax and Survey Records

Theoretical models show that financial inclusion reduces wealth inequality. Existing empirical models are restricted to estimates using income inequality because of a lack of cross country wealth inequality data. We used 2010-11 and 2014-5 waves of the National Income Dynamics Study combined with South African tax records to estimate wealth and income inequality. Using Re-centered Influence Function regressions on the micro-level records, we confirmed the negative cross-country relationship between financial inclusion and income inequality. Wealth inequality is different. Financial inclusion improved wealth shares of only the middle class. Because of predatory lending, expansion of credit reduced the wealth share of the poor. Improved savings by the middle class, providing better oversight over financial services targeted at the poor and removing impediments to the small business sector are pre-conditions for financial inclusion to reduce wealth inequality.


Keywords: Saving Income and wealth distribution, Financial inclusion, Re-centered influence functions, Tax records, Pareto imputation


JEL classification: E21, D31, G51, O16


von Fintel, D. and Orthofer, A., 2020. Wealth inequality and financial inclusion: Evidence from South African tax and survey records. Economic Modelling.