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Intersectoral size differences and migration: Kuznets revisited

Anbarci, N.; Ulubaşoğlu, M.A.


M.A. Ulubaşoğlu


That researchers look for the inverted-U shape in inequality in the arbitrary periods of arbitrary countries underlies the divergent empirical evidence across studies. To point to the right context for the pattern, this paper establishes a formal mechanism in line with Kuznets' explanation that relates to the industrialization-cum-urbanization phases of closed trade regimes. The mechanism involves an interaction among urban–rural sectoral size differences, agricultural tastes/income, and migration, and predicts an inverted-U shape in inequality in the following way: (i) widening differences in the sizes of urban and rural sectors due to exogenous shocks affect negatively the agricultural tastes/income, worsening inequality; (ii) increasing sectoral size differences and decreasing agricultural tastes/income jointly foster intersectoral migration; (iii) migration acts, in turn, as an equilibrating effect, improving the income distribution. Empirically testing these predictions, non-Sub-Saharan developing countries' data support the mechanism, while data from developed and Sub-Saharan African countries provide little support, as per our prior expectations. This highlights a contrasting evidence on the inverted-U shape across country groups of differing development stages.


Anbarci, N., & Ulubaşoğlu, M. (2011). Intersectoral size differences and migration: Kuznets revisited. The Journal of International Trade & Economic Development, 20(2), 251-292.

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date Feb 18, 2011
Publication Date 2011-04
Deposit Date Aug 17, 2018
Journal The Journal of International Trade & Economic Development
Print ISSN 0963-8199
Electronic ISSN 1469-9559
Publisher Taylor and Francis Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 20
Issue 2
Pages 251-292
Public URL