A non-parametric microsimulation approach to assess changes in inequality and poverty
This paper presents a non-parametric microsimulation methodology for assessing the impact of labour market changes and government transfers on income inequality and poverty at the household level. The approach assumes that labour markets are segmented and determines (as part of a randomized process) which individuals are expected to move in or out of employment and which move from one employment segment to another based on either known or counterfactual information of aggregate labour market changes. The methodology assumes that the distribution of earnings of those who become employed in a particular segment resembles that of the individuals observed to be employed in that segment. The approach can be effectively combined in top-down fashion with static or dynamic computable general equilibrium (CGE) models, which typically provide insufficient information about household income distribution. The paper discusses the virtues and limitations of applying this methodology and further explains to practitioners how to implement it as a stand-alone methodology or in combination with a CGE model. It also shows how the methodology can be generalized to also capture the poverty and inequality effects of changes in non-labour incomes, such as government transfers. One great advantage of this method is that it is not very demanding in terms of modelling labour supply and household behaviour as compared with alternative parametric approaches, while at the same time providing a plausible link between changes in overall labour market conditions and the full household income distribution.
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