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Why Measure Inequality?

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  • Louis Kaplow

Abstract

A large body of literature is devoted to the measurement of income inequality, yet little attention is given to the question, Why measure inequality? However, the reasons for measurement bear importantly on whether and how measurement should be done. Upon examination, normative measures are found to be of questionable value. Descriptive measures, by contrast, may be useful, but the appropriate measure depends on the field of application rather than on general, a priori principles of the sort that are emphasized in the existing measurement literature. Measures of poverty are also considered, and similar conclusions are reached.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 9342.

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Date of creation: Nov 2002
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Publication status: published as Louis Kaplow, 2005. "Why measure inequality?," Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer, vol. 3(1), pages 65-79, April.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9342

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References

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  1. Charles Blackorby & David Donaldson, 1984. "Ethical Social Index Numbers and the Measurement of Effective Tax-Benefit Progressivity," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 17(4), pages 683-94, November.
  2. Rodrik, Dani & Alesina, Alberto, 1994. "Distributive Politics and Economic Growth," Scholarly Articles 4551798, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  3. Louis Kaplow, 2003. "Concavity of Utility, Concavity of Welfare, and Redistribution of Income," NBER Working Papers 10005, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Robert J. Barro, 1999. "Inequality, Growth, and Investment," NBER Working Papers 7038, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  8. Barro, Robert J, 2000. " Inequality and Growth in a Panel of Countries," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 5(1), pages 5-32, March.
  9. 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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  14. Michael Rothschild & Joseph E. Stiglitz, 1972. "Some Further Results on the Measurement of Inequality," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 344, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
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  16. Neal, Derek & Rosen, Sherwin, 2000. "Theories of the distribution of earnings," Handbook of Income Distribution, in: A.B. Atkinson & F. Bourguignon (ed.), Handbook of Income Distribution, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 7, pages 379-427 Elsevier.
  17. Suits, Daniel B, 1977. "Measurement of Tax Progressivity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(4), pages 747-52, September.
  18. Sen, Amartya K, 1976. "Poverty: An Ordinal Approach to Measurement," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 44(2), pages 219-31, March.
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  21. Dasgupta, Partha & Sen, Amartya & Starrett, David, 1973. "Notes on the measurement of inequality," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 6(2), pages 180-187, April.
  22. Yitzhaki, Shlomo, 1979. "Relative Deprivation and the Gini Coefficient," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 93(2), pages 321-24, May.
  23. Kristin J. Forbes, 2000. "A Reassessment of the Relationship between Inequality and Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 869-887, September.
  24. Yitzhaki, Shlomo, 2002. "Do we need a separate poverty measurement?," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 61-85, March.
  25. Kakwani, Nanak C, 1977. "Applications of Lorenz Curves in Economic Analysis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 45(3), pages 719-27, April.
  26. Fajnzylber, Pablo & Lederman, Daniel & Loayza, Norman, 2002. "Inequality and Violent Crime," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 45(1), pages 1-40, April.
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Cited by:
  1. Heshmati, Almas, 2004. "The World Distribution of Income and Income Inequality," IZA Discussion Papers 1267, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Richard M. bird, 2003. "Taxation in Latin America: Reflections on Sustainability and the Balance between Equity and Efficiency," International Tax Program Papers 0306, International Tax Program, Institute for International Business, Joseph L. Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto.
  3. Glenn Sheriff & Kelly B. Maguire, 2013. "Ranking Distributions of Environmental Outcomes Across Population Groups," NCEE Working Paper Series 201304, National Center for Environmental Economics, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, revised Aug 2013.
  4. Budria, Santiago, 2007. "Economic Inequality in Portugal: A Picture in the Beginnings of the 21st century," MPRA Paper 1784, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  5. Irina Gerasimova, 2011. "Sources of Income as a Factor of Interregional Social Economic Differentiation of the Russian Population (1995 – 2007 years)," ERSA conference papers ersa10p378, European Regional Science Association.
  6. 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.
  7. Pierre-Philippe Combes & Henry Overman, 2003. "The Spatial Distribution of Economic Activities in the European Union," CEP Discussion Papers dp0587, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  8. Heshmati, Almas, 2004. "Data Issues and Databases Used in Analysis of Growth, Poverty and Economic Inequality," IZA Discussion Papers 1263, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. Kaplow, Louis, 2006. "Public goods and the distribution of income," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 50(7), pages 1627-1660, October.
  10. Aristei, David & Perugini, Cristiano, 2010. "Preferences for redistribution and inequality in well-being across Europe," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 176-195, March.
  11. Dieter Schmidtchen & Christian Koboldt & Jenny Monheim & Birgit Will & Georg Haas, . "The Internalisation of External Costs in Transport: From the Polluter Pays to the Cheapest Cost Avoider Principle," German Working Papers in Law and Economics 2008-1-1214, Berkeley Electronic Press.

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