Three decades of research on innovation and inequality: Causal scenarios, explanatory factors and suggestions

Fragkandreas, T. 2022. Three decades of research on innovation and inequality: Causal scenarios, explanatory factors and suggestions. Prometheus: Critical Studies in Innovation. 38 (2), pp. 147-193. https://doi.org/10.13169/prometheus.38.2.0147

TitleThree decades of research on innovation and inequality: Causal scenarios, explanatory factors and suggestions
TypeJournal article
AuthorsFragkandreas, T.
Abstract

Prompted by rising income inequality (in short, inequality) in advanced economies, a rapidly grow-ing number of studies across various fields and disciplines of social science have, since the 1990s, sought to find out how innovation (as the main engine of economic progress) affects the distribu-tion of income in modern-day capitalist societies. Using the systematic literature review method, this paper provides the first critical review of 166 studies on innovation and inequality published in 114 journals in the last three decades (1990–2019). It is shown that, while the great majority of studies under review concur that innovation induces inequality, this finding is subject to the disci-plinary origins of research (e.g., development studies, economics, geography, innovation studies, etc.) and the country under investigation. Furthermore, guided by an original causally holistic analytical framework, the analysis demonstrates that the relationship between innovation and inequality is significantly more causally complex than the most popular theoretical perspective (i.e., skill-biased technological change account) has let us believe; in particular, it is subject to five causal scenarios and a range of explanatory factors (i.e., skill premiums, technological unemploy-ment, international trade, declining union membership, spatial aspects, changing employment conditions, policy, horizontal inequalities, sectoral composition and types of innovation). The paper ends by discussing findings, policy implications and knowledge gaps, one of which concerns the following under-researched question: how, and under what conditions do publicly funded innovation policies reduce (or increase) inequality?

KeywordsInnovation
Income Inequality
Innovation Studies
Systematic Literature Review
JournalPrometheus: Critical Studies in Innovation
Journal citation38 (2), pp. 147-193
ISSN1470-1030
Year2022
PublisherPluto Press
Publisher's version
File Access Level
Open (open metadata and files)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.13169/prometheus.38.2.0147
Web address (URL)https://www.scienceopen.com/hosted-document?doi=10.13169/Prometheus.38.2.0147
Publication dates
Published30 Aug 2022

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