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A Representation Index: Measuring the Representation of Minorities in the Income Distribution


  • Pendakur Krishna

    () (Simon Fraser University)

  • Pendakur Ravi

    () (University of Ottawa)

  • Woodcock Simon D.

    () (Simon Fraser University)


The existence of glass ceilings and sticky floors suggests that disadvantaged workers will be under-represented in some parts of the income distribution, and over-represented in others. We present a representation index that measures the prevalence of population subgroups in different regions of the income (or any other) distribution. Our representation index is easily generalized to condition on characteristics (such as age, education, etc). Further, it generalizes naturally to an index of the severity (or cost) of under-representation to group members, which is based on dollar-weighted representation. Both representation and severity indices are easily calculated via existing regression techniques. We illustrate the approach using Canadian Census data on the earnings of ethnic minorities.

Suggested Citation

  • Pendakur Krishna & Pendakur Ravi & Woodcock Simon D., 2008. "A Representation Index: Measuring the Representation of Minorities in the Income Distribution," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 8(1), pages 1-21, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:bejeap:v:8:y:2008:i:1:n:44

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Nicole M. Fortin & Thomas Lemieux, 1998. "Rank Regressions, Wage Distributions, and the Gender Gap," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 33(3), pages 610-643.
    2. James Albrecht & Anders Bjorklund & Susan Vroman, 2003. "Is There a Glass Ceiling in Sweden?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(1), pages 145-177, January.
    3. Krishna Pendakur & Ravi Pendakur, 2007. "Minority Earnings Disparity Across the Distribution," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 33(1), pages 41-62, March.
    4. Belkacem Abdous & Bruno Remillard, 1995. "Relating quantiles and expectiles under weighted-symmetry," Annals of the Institute of Statistical Mathematics, Springer;The Institute of Statistical Mathematics, vol. 47(2), pages 371-384, June.
    5. Sen, Amartya K, 1976. "Poverty: An Ordinal Approach to Measurement," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 44(2), pages 219-231, March.
    6. Smith, James P & Welch, Finis R, 1989. "Black Economic Progress after Myrdal," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 27(2), pages 519-564, June.
    7. Wojciech Kopczuk & Emmanuel Saez & Jae Song, 2007. "Uncovering the American Dream: Inequality and Mobility in Social Security Earnings Data since 1937," NBER Working Papers 13345, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Russo, Giovanni & Hassink, Wolter, 2011. "Multiple Glass Ceilings," IZA Discussion Papers 5828, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Giovanni Russo & Wolter Hassink, 2012. "Multiple Glass Ceilings," Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 51(4), pages 892-915, October.

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