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International Trends in Income Inequality and Social Policy

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  • Koen Caminada

    ()

  • Kees Goudswaard

    ()

Abstract

In most OECD-countries income inequality has increased during the last two decades. In this paper, we investigate whether changes in the overall distribution of income can be attributed to social policy measures. For most (but not all) countries we find a possible relationship between changing welfare state policies (as measured by expenditure ratios and replacement rates) and changing income inequality. Especially the United Kingdom and the Netherlands combined an above-average rise in inequality with a reduction in the generosity of the welfare system. A more elaborate budget incidence analysis for the Netherlands indicates that in the period 1981–1997 inequality of disposable household income increased sharply. The two main forces behind this phenomenon were a more unequal distribution of market incomes and changes in social transfers. Fundamental social security reforms in the Netherlands indeed seem to have made the income distribution less equal. However, income inequality in the Netherlands is still below the OECD average at the end of the observed period. Copyright Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Springer in its journal International Tax and Public Finance.

Volume (Year): 8 (2001)
Issue (Month): 4 (August)
Pages: 395-415

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Handle: RePEc:kap:itaxpf:v:8:y:2001:i:4:p:395-415

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Web page: http://www.springerlink.com/link.asp?id=102915

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Keywords: social policy; income distribution (indices); taxes and transfers;

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References

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  1. Kakwani, Nanak C, 1977. "Applications of Lorenz Curves in Economic Analysis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 45(3), pages 719-27, April.
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  11. Gottschalk, Peter & Smeeding, Timothy M., 2000. "Empirical evidence on income inequality in industrialized countries," Handbook of Income Distribution, in: A.B. Atkinson & F. Bourguignon (ed.), Handbook of Income Distribution, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 5, pages 261-307 Elsevier.
  12. Jean-Yves Duclos, 2000. "Gini Indices and the Redistribution of Income," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 7(2), pages 141-162, March.
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  14. Koen Caminada & Kees Goudswaard, 1996. "Progression and revenue effects of income tax reform," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 3(1), pages 57-66, January.
  15. Peter Whiteford, 1995. "The Use of Replacement Rates in International Comparisons of Benefit Systems," Discussion Papers 0054, University of New South Wales, Social Policy Research Centre.
  16. Hongyi Li & Lyn Squire & Tao Zhang & Heng-fu Zou, 1999. "A Data Set on Income Distribution," CEMA Working Papers 575, China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics.
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