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Income Inequality and Poverty

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  • Martin Feldstein

Abstract

The first part of this paper argues that income inequality is not a problem in need of remedy. The common practice of interpreting a rise in the gini coefficient measure of inequality as a bad thing violates the Pareto principle and is equivalent to using a social welfare function that puts negative weight on increases in the income of high income individuals. The real distributional problem is not inequality but poverty. The paper considers three sources of poverty and asks what if anything might be done about each of them: unemployment; a low level of earning capacity; and individual choice.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 6770.

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Date of creation: Oct 1998
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6770

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  1. Romer, Christina D. & Romer, David H., 1994. "Monetary policy matters," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 75-88, August.
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Cited by:
  1. Branko Milanovic, 2004. "Why we all do care about inequality (but are loath to admit it)," HEW 0404002, EconWPA.
  2. Erzo F.P. Luttmer, 2004. "Neighbors as Negatives: Relative Earnings and Well-Being," NBER Working Papers 10667, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. M. Dolores Collado & Iñigo Iturbe Ormaetxe, 2008. "Public Transfers to the Poor: Is Europe really more Generous than the United States?," Working Papers. Serie AD 2008-05, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas, S.A. (Ivie).
  4. Abdelkrim Araar & Awoyemi Taiwo, 2006. "Poverty and Inequality Nexus: Illustrations with Nigerian Data," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 28(15), pages A0.
  5. Mary C. Daly & Daniel J. Wilson, 2006. "Keeping up with the Joneses and staying ahead of the Smiths: evidence from suicide data," Working Paper Series 2006-12, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  6. Konstantinos D. Mavromatis, 2009. "Nonlinearities in the Real Exchange Rate and Monetary Policy: Interest Rate Rules Reconsidered," Working Papers 2009-4, Central Bank of Cyprus.
  7. Thomas A. Garrett, 2008. "U.S. income inequality: it's not so bad," The Regional Economist, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Oct, pages 4-5.
  8. Daniel Suryadarma & Rima Prama Artha & Asep Suryahadi & Sudarno Sumarto, 2005. "A Reassessment of Inequality and Its Role in Poverty Reduction in Indonesia," Development Economics Working Papers 22543, East Asian Bureau of Economic Research.
  9. Alfonso Gambardella & David Ulph, 2002. "Technology, Entrepreneurship, And Inequality," LEM Papers Series 2002/06, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
  10. Hopkins, Jeffrey W. & Morehart, Mitchell J., 2000. "Distributional Analysis Of U.S. Farm Household Income," 2000 Annual Meeting, June 29-July 1, 2000, Vancouver, British Columbia 36517, Western Agricultural Economics Association.
  11. Timothy Smeeding, 1999. "Unequal incomes, unequal outcomes? Economic inequality and measures of well-being, closing discussion: social policy implications, general commentary," Economic Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue Sep, pages 175-177.

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