Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Globalization, Welfare Policy, Income Inequality

Major Advisor

Lyle Scruggs

Associate Advisor

Shareen Hertel

Associate Advisor

Michael Wallace

Field of Study

Political science


Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Campus Access


This dissertation explores how globalization, welfare policy, and how the interaction between them impacts income inequality in developed economies. It first examines three dimensions of globalization – i.e., trade openness, financial openness, and immigration – and scrutinizes how each one of these impacts income inequality in the upper and lower-halves of the income distribution as well as overall. Then, it assesses the redistributive effects of welfare policy and its compensatory role in moderating the effects of globalization on income inequality.

Using unbalanced panel data on 16 developed countries from 1981 to 2010, this dissertation finds that southern imports, FDI inflows/outflows, capital openness, and net migration impact income inequality but that their effects on inequality differ among income strata. Southern imports, capital openness, and net migration are found to have a more pronounced impact on income inequality in the lower-half of the distribution, while FDI outflows produce the strong effect in the upper-half. It also tests the effects of welfare policy on income distribution in these countries and finds that it significantly reduces inequality for all parts of the distribution. Further, these egalitarian effects are found to hold up when inequality is specifically attributed to southern imports, capital openness, and net migration. This finding supports the argument that welfare policy plays a significant role in compensating for adverse effects of globalization on income distribution among developed economies.