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Inequalities between Groups: Theory and Empirics


  • Jayadev, Arjun
  • Reddy, Sanjay G.


Summary Inequality between identity groups has long been thought of as an important contributor to social unrest and violence as well as being important in assessing the justice of societies. Yet, the measurement of the ways in which such groups differ and are unequal remains underdeveloped. Accordingly, this paper introduces three distinct but interlinked concepts relating to inequality between groups which can be used in empirical estimation of group based inequality. We define and discuss the concepts of representational inequality, sequence inequality, and group inequality comparison. Representational inequality captures the extent to which a given level of attribute is shared between members of distinct groups, sequence inequality captures the extent to which groups are ordered hierarchically in their possession of the attribute and group inequality comparison captures the extent to which differences between groups account for the overall inequality of individuals. These concepts can be used to measure the degree of segregation, clustering, and polarization between groups. In order to illustrate the merit of these concepts and their joint application to understanding group based inequality we provide an example using Demographic and Health Surveys data for five societies. It may be seen that the choice of measures is greatly consequential in applied work.

Suggested Citation

  • Jayadev, Arjun & Reddy, Sanjay G., 2011. "Inequalities between Groups: Theory and Empirics," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 39(2), pages 159-173, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:wdevel:v:39:y:2011:i:2:p:159-173

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. José G. Montalvo & Marta Reynal-Querol, 2005. "Ethnic Polarization, Potential Conflict, and Civil Wars," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 796-816, June.
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    8. D. Jayaraj & S. Subramanian, 2006. "Horizontal and Vertical Inequality: Some Interconnections and Indicators," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 75(1), pages 123-139, January.
    9. Anderson, Gordon, 2004. "Toward an empirical analysis of polarization," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 122(1), pages 1-26, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Sripad Motiram & Nayantara Sarma, 2011. "Polarization, inequality and growth: The Indian experience," Working Papers 225, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.
    2. Sripad Motiram & Nayantara Sarma, 2011. "Polarization, inequality and growth: The Indian experience," Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, Mumbai Working Papers 2011-011, Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, Mumbai, India.
    3. Dhongde, Shatakshee, 2017. "Measuring Segregation of the Poor: Evidence from India," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 89(C), pages 111-123.
    4. Anjan Ray chaudhury, 2013. "Interpreting the concept of representational inequality to reckon between-group inequality for different types of data," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 33(4), pages 2890-2904.


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