In this paper, we study the impact of financialization on the rise in inequality in 18 OECD countries from 1970 to 2011 and measure the respective roles of various forms of financialization: the growth of the financial sector; the growth of one of its subcomponents, financial markets; the financialization of non-financial firms; and the financialization of households. We test these impacts using cross-country panel regressions in OECD countries. As dependent measures we use Solt's (2009) Gini index, the World Top Incomes Database, and OECD inter-decile inequality measures. We show first that the share of the finance sector within the GDP is a substantial driver of world inequality, explaining between 20 and 40 percent of its increase from 1980 to 2007. When we decompose this financial sector effect, we find that this evolution was mainly driven by the increase in the volume of stocks traded in national stock exchanges and by the volume of shares held as assets in banks' balance sheets. By contrast, the financialization of non-financial firms and of households does not play a substantial role. Based on this inequality test, we therefore interpret financialization as being mainly a phenomenon of marketization, redefined as the growing amount of social energy devoted to the trade of financial instruments on financial markets.
Financialization Marketization Income inequality OECD