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Measuring inequality with interval data


  • Beckman, Steve
  • James Smith, W.
  • Zheng, Buhong


This paper employs the axiomatic approach underpinning the literature on income inequality measurement to analyze measures of dispersion in interval data. We find that some widely employed measures fail to properly measure dispersion when data are not of the ratio type. We go on to prove that, under reasonable conditions, variance is the only decomposable measure that can be used to consistently measure inequality of interval data. Moreover, the only proper Lorenz dominance condition for interval data is absolute Lorenz dominance that Moyes [Moyes, P., 1987. A new concept of Lorenz domination. Economics Letters 23, 203-207] introduced.

Suggested Citation

  • Beckman, Steve & James Smith, W. & Zheng, Buhong, 2009. "Measuring inequality with interval data," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 58(1), pages 25-34, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:matsoc:v:58:y:2009:i:1:p:25-34

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Moyes, Patrick, 1987. "A new concept of Lorenz domination," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 203-207.
    2. Shorrocks, A F, 1980. "The Class of Additively Decomposable Inequality Measures," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(3), pages 613-625, April.
    3. Buhong Zheng, 2007. "Inequality orderings and unit consistency," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 29(3), pages 515-538, October.
    4. Buhong Zheng, 2007. "Unit-Consistent Decomposable Inequality Measures," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 74(293), pages 97-111, February.
    5. Bourguignon, Francois, 1979. "Decomposable Income Inequality Measures," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(4), pages 901-920, July.
    6. Rothschild, Michael & Stiglitz, Joseph E., 1970. "Increasing risk: I. A definition," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 225-243, September.
    7. Atkinson, Anthony B., 1970. "On the measurement of inequality," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 244-263, September.
    8. Zheng, Buhong, 1994. "Can a Poverty Index Be Both Relative and Absolute?," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(6), pages 1453-1458, November.
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    Cited by:

    1. Makdissi, Paul & Yazbeck, Myra, 2014. "Measuring socioeconomic health inequalities in presence of multiple categorical information," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(C), pages 84-95.


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