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Measuring global well-being inequality: A dimension-by-dimension or multidimensional approach?


  • Koen Decancq


This paper investigates the evolution of global well-being inequality between 1980 and 2010 based on three dimensions: income, health and education. I compare two different approaches to the measurement of global well-being inequality: a dimension-by-dimension approach and a multidimensional one. The first approach analyses the dimensions of well-being separately. The inequality of each of these dimensions shows a remarkably different pattern over time. Unfortunately, this dimension-by-dimension approach is insensitive to the correlation between the dimensions of well-being. The second approach takes this correlation into account and starts from a multidimensional measure of well-being for each country. This well-being measure reflects the implicit value judgments of the revised Human Development Index (HDI). It is shown that multidimensional well-being inequality has decreased over the considered period. However, this result depends crucially on the weighting scheme selected, the aggregation procedure and the transformation of the income dimension. Biographic note: I wrote my doctoral dissertation on “Essays on the measurement of multidimensional inequality”. Financial support from the IWT-project: “Flemosi: Tools for ex ante evaluation of socio-economic policies in Flanders” is gratefully acknowledged. JEL Classification: D63, I31, O52.

Suggested Citation

  • Koen Decancq, 2011. "Measuring global well-being inequality: A dimension-by-dimension or multidimensional approach?," Reflets et perspectives de la vie économique, De Boeck Université, vol. 0(4), pages 179-196.
  • Handle: RePEc:cai:rpvedb:rpve_504_0179

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    More about this item


    global inequality; Gini coefficient; human development index; multidimensional inequality;

    JEL classification:

    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • O52 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Europe


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