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World welfare is rising: estimation using nonparametric bounds on welfare measures

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  • Pinkovskiy, Maxim L.

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    (Federal Reserve Bank of New York)

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    Abstract

    I take a new approach to measuring world inequality and welfare over time by constructing robust bounds for these series instead of imposing parametric assumptions to compute point estimates. I derive sharp bounds on the Atkinson inequality index that are valid for any underlying distribution of income conditional on given fractile shares and the Gini coefficient. While the bounds are too wide to reject the hypothesis that world inequality may have risen, I show that world welfare rose unambiguously between 1970 and 2006. This conclusion is valid for alternative methods of dealing with countries and years with missing surveys, alternative survey harmonization procedures, and alternative GDP series, or if the inequality surveys used systematically underreport the income of the very rich or suffer from nonresponse bias.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of New York in its series Staff Reports with number 662.

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    Length: 62 pages
    Date of creation: 01 Dec 2014
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:fip:fednsr:662

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    Related research

    Keywords: world income distribution; inequality and welfare measures; nonparametric bounds;

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    1. Banerjee, Abhijit & Piketty, Thomas, 2004. "Top Indian Incomes, 1922-2000," CEPR Discussion Papers 4632, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. McDonald, James B. & Xu, Yexiao J., 1995. "A generalization of the beta distribution with applications," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 66(1-2), pages 133-152.
    3. Maxim Pinkovskiy & Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 2009. "Parametric Estimations of the World Distribution of Income," NBER Working Papers 15433, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    13. Anthony B. Atkinson & Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez, 2009. "Top Incomes in the Long Run of History," NBER Working Papers 15408, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. François Bourguignon & Christian Morrisson, 2001. "Inequality among World Citizens : 1820-1992," DELTA Working Papers 2001-18, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
    15. Chotikapanich, Duangkamon & Griffiths, William E. & Rao, D. S. Prasada, 2007. "Estimating and Combining National Income Distributions Using Limited Data," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 25, pages 97-109, January.
    16. Shaohua Chen & Ravallion, Martin, 2000. "How did the world's poorest fare in the 1990s ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2409, The World Bank.
    17. Angus Deaton, 2010. "Price Indexes, Inequality, and the Measurement of World Poverty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(1), pages 5-34, March.
    18. Korinek, Anton & Mistiaen, Johan A. & Ravallion, Martin, 2005. "Survey nonresponse and the distribution of income," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3543, The World Bank.
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