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A Class of Two-Group Polarization Measures

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  • WALTER BOSSERT
  • WILLIAM SCHWORM

Abstract

The phenomenon of income polarization is generally associated with a disappearing middle class but there does not seem to be a generally accepted definition of this notion. We characterize classes of polarization quasi-orderings and polarization measures in a framework where there are two income groups separated by the median. The axioms we employ are variants of within-group clustering and between-group spread properties, and an independence property. Furthermore, we illustrate that attempts to extend the axioms to more general settings severely restrict their appeal and conclude that alternative approaches may be required to capture concepts involving polarization. Copyright � 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc..

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Association for Public Economic Theory in its journal Journal of Public Economic Theory.

Volume (Year): 10 (2008)
Issue (Month): 6 (December)
Pages: 1169-1187

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Handle: RePEc:bla:jpbect:v:10:y:2008:i:6:p:1169-1187

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  1. X. Zhang & R. Kanbur, 2001. "What Difference Do Polarisation Measures Make? An Application to China," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 37(3), pages 85-98.
  2. Ravallion, Martin & Chen, Shaohua, 1997. "What Can New Survey Data Tell Us about Recent Changes in Distribution and Poverty?," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 11(2), pages 357-82, May.
  3. Gradin, Carlos, 2000. "Polarization by Sub-populations in Spain, 1973-91," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 46(4), pages 457-74, December.
  4. Esteban, Joan & Ray, Debraj, 1999. "Conflict and Distribution," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 87(2), pages 379-415, August.
  5. Jean-Yves Duclos & Joan Esteban & Debraj Ray, 2003. "Polarization: Concepts, Measurement, Estimation," Working Papers 46, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  6. Esteban, J.M. & Ray, D., 1992. "On the Measurement of Polarization," UFAE and IAE Working Papers 171.92, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC).
  7. Joan Esteban & Carlos Gradín & Debraj Ray, 2007. "An Extension of a Measure of Polarization, with an application to the income distribution of five OECD countries," Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer, vol. 5(1), pages 1-19, April.
  8. D'Ambrosio, Conchita, 2001. "Household Characteristics and the Distribution of Income in Italy: An Application of Social Distance Measures," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 47(1), pages 43-64, March.
  9. Seshanna, Shubhasree & Decornez, Stephane, 2003. "Income polarization and inequality across countries: an empirical study," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 25(4), pages 335-358, June.
  10. : Christian Schultz, . "Polarization and Inefficient Policies," Discussion Papers 93-16, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  11. Wolfson, Michael C, 1997. "Divergent Inequalities: Theory and Empirical Results," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 43(4), pages 401-21, December.
  12. Chakravarty, Satya R & Majumder, Amita, 2001. "Inequality, Polarisation and Welfare: Theory and Applications," Australian Economic Papers, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 40(1), pages 1-13, March.
  13. Wang, You-Qiang & Tsui, Kai-Yuen, 2000. " Polarization Orderings and New Classes of Polarization Indices," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 2(3), pages 349-63.
  14. Wolfson, Michael C, 1994. "When Inequalities Diverge," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(2), pages 353-58, May.
  15. Shorrocks, Anthony F, 1983. "Ranking Income Distributions," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 50(197), pages 3-17, February.
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Cited by:
  1. Janoes, A; & Rice, N; & Robone, S; & Rosa Dias, P;, 2010. "Inequality and Polarisation in Health Systems’ Responsiveness: A Cross-Country Analysis," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 10/27, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.
  2. Peter Lambert, 2010. "James Foster and Michael Wolfson’s 1992 paper “Polarization and the decline of the middle class”," Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer, vol. 8(2), pages 241-245, June.
  3. Gaston Yalonetzky, 2013. "Relative bipolarization quasi-ordering based on Between-Group Gini (BGG) curves," Working Papers 318, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.
  4. Rolf Aaberge & A B Atkinson, 2013. "The median as watershed," Discussion Papers 749, Research Department of Statistics Norway.

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