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What do normative indices of multidimensional inequality really measure?

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  • Bosmans, Kristof
  • Decancq, Koen
  • Ooghe, Erwin

Abstract

We argue that normative indices of multidimensional inequality do not only measure a distribution's extent of inequity (i.e., the gaps between the better-off and the worse-off), but also its extent of inefficiency (i.e., the non-realized mutually beneficial exchanges of goods). We provide a decomposition that allows us to quantify these two parts of inequality. Strikingly, the inequity component turns out to be a two-stage measure, that is, a measure that applies a unidimensional inequality measure to the vector of individual well-being levels. The decomposition also clarifies existing controversies surrounding two prominent transfer axioms, viz., uniform majorization and correlation increasing majorization. An application to inequality in human development illustrates the analysis.

Suggested Citation

  • Bosmans, Kristof & Decancq, Koen & Ooghe, Erwin, 2015. "What do normative indices of multidimensional inequality really measure?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 130(C), pages 94-104.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:130:y:2015:i:c:p:94-104
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2015.03.003
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:bla:econom:v:84:y:2017:i:334:p:210-238 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Rolf Aaberge & Andrea Brandolini, 2014. "Multidimensional poverty and inequality," Discussion Papers 792, Statistics Norway, Research Department.
    3. Koen Decancq, 2017. "Measuring Multidimensional Inequality in the OECD Member Countries with a Distribution-Sensitive Better Life Index," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 131(3), pages 1057-1086, April.
    4. Paolo Giovanni Piacquadio, 2017. "A Fairness Justification of Utilitarianism," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 85, pages 1261-1276, July.
    5. Rolf Aaberge & Ugo Colombino, 2018. "Structural Labour Supply Models and Microsimulation," Discussion Papers 877, Statistics Norway, Research Department.
    6. Bosmans, Kristof & Decancq, Koen & Ooghe, Erwin, 2018. "Who's afraid of aggregating money metrics?," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 13(2), May.
    7. Kristof Bosmans & Z. Emel Öztürk, 2018. "An axiomatic approach to the measurement of envy," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 50(2), pages 247-264, February.
    8. Shatakshee Dhongde & Yi Li & Prasanta K. Pattanaik & Yongsheng Xu, 2016. "Binary data, hierarchy of attributes, and multidimensional deprivation," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 14(4), pages 363-378, December.
    9. Lidia Ceriani & Chiara Gigliarano, 2016. "Multidimensional well-being: A Bayesian Networks approach," Working Papers 399, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.
    10. Koen Decancq & Marc Fleurbaey & Erik Schokkaert, 2017. "Wellbeing Inequality and Preference Heterogeneity," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 84(334), pages 210-238, April.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Multidimensional inequality; Equity; Efficiency; Uniform majorization; Correlation increasing majorization;

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • 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

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