IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Inégalité et redistribution du revenu, avec une application au Canada


  • Duclos, Jean-Yves

    (CRÉFA, Département d’économique, Université Laval)

  • Tabi, Martin

    (CRÉFA, Département d’économique, Université Laval)


The usefulness of Lorenz curves for analysing the distribution of income is well understood since the influential article of Atkinson (1970). We show in this paper how combining Lorenz and concentration curves for incomes, taxes and transfers allows one to summarise easily and intuitively the impact of government on the distribution of income. We more particularly look at income redistribution and at the vertical and horizontal equity exerted by direct taxes and transfers. By applying "ethical weights" to the distance between the Lorenz and the concentration curves, we obtain summary indices of inequality, redistribution and equity that are easily decomposed additively into separate tax and benefit components. These indices are a generalisation of the well-known Gini index of inequality. The approach is illustrated using micro data on the distribution and the redistribution of income in Canada in the last decade. It confirms the well-known result that the inequality of gross income increased between 1981 and 1990, whereas the inequality of net income fell during the same period. The redistribution exerted by the tax and transfer system increased considerably during that period, at the cost of a higher level of horizontal inequity. Income redistribution is largely generated by the group of transfers related to retirement and old age. As for the redistributive impact of direct taxes, it is quite sensitive to the value of the ethical parameter used in computing the summary indices of equity and redistribution. L’utilité des courbes de Lorenz pour l’analyse de la répartition des revenus est bien connue depuis l’article influent d’Atkinson (1970). Nous indiquons dans le présent article comment l’usage combiné de ces courbes de Lorenz et des courbes de concentration des revenus, des impôts ou des transferts permet de résumer facilement et intuitivement l’impact de l’État sur la distribution des revenus. Nous nous intéressons plus particulièrement à la redistribution des revenus ainsi qu’à l’équité verticale et l’iniquité horizontale exercées par l’impôt direct et les politiques de transferts. En appliquant des poids « éthiques » à la distance entre les courbes de Lorenz et de concentration, l’on obtient des indices synthétiques d’inégalité, de redistribution et d’équité qui peuvent être facilement décomposés en contributions individuelles des différents types d’impôts et de transferts. Ces indices représentent une généralisation et une extension de l’indice d’inégalité bien connu de Gini. Cette approche est illustrée à l’aide de la distribution et de la redistribution des revenus au Canada au cours de la dernière décennie. On confirme le résultat bien connu que l’inégalité des revenus bruts s’est accrue de 1981 à 1990 alors qu’elle a chuté pour le revenu net. La redistribution opérée par le système fiscal s’est considérablement accrue au cours de cette décennie, au prix entre autres choses d’une plus grande iniquité horizontale. Le groupe de transferts reliés à la retraite et à la vieillesse est celui qui exerce de loin le plus d’impact sur la redistribution des revenus. L’impact redistributif de l’impôt direct est quant à lui très sensible au paramètre de subjectivité éthique utilisé.

Suggested Citation

  • Duclos, Jean-Yves & Tabi, Martin, 1999. "Inégalité et redistribution du revenu, avec une application au Canada," L'Actualité Economique, Société Canadienne de Science Economique, vol. 75(1), pages 95-122, mars-juin.
  • Handle: RePEc:ris:actuec:v:75:y:1999:i:1:p:95-122

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Russell Davidson & Jean-Yves Duclos, 1997. "Statistical Inference for the Measurement of the Incidence of Taxes and Transfers," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(6), pages 1453-1466, November.
    2. Plotnick, Robert, 1982. "The concept and measurement of horizontal inequity," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 373-391, April.
    3. Ruggeri, G C & Van Wart, D & Howard, R, 1994. "The Redistributional Impact of Government Spending in Canada," Public Finance = Finances publiques, , vol. 49(2), pages 212-243.
    4. Duclos, Jean-Yves, 1997. "The asymptotic distribution of linear indices of inequality, progressivity and redistribution," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 51-57, January.
    5. Suits, Daniel B, 1977. "Measurement of Tax Progressivity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(4), pages 747-752, September.
    6. Yitzhaki, Shlomo, 1983. "On an Extension of the Gini Inequality Index," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 24(3), pages 617-628, October.
    7. Creedy, John, 1996. "Comparing Tax and Transfer Systems: Poverty, Inequality and Target Efficiency," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 63(250), pages 163-174, Suppl..
    8. Plotnick, Robert, 1981. "A Measure of Horizontal Inequity," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 63(2), pages 283-288, May.
    9. Shlomo Yitzhaki, 1979. "Relative Deprivation and the Gini Coefficient," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 93(2), pages 321-324.
    10. Atkinson, Anthony B., 1970. "On the measurement of inequality," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 244-263, September.
    11. Jakobsson, Ulf, 1976. "On the measurement of the degree of progression," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 5(1-2), pages 161-168.
    12. Kakwani, Nanok C, 1977. "Measurement of Tax Progressivity: An International Comparison," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 87(345), pages 71-80, March.
    13. DUCLOS, Jean-Yves, 1995. "Relative Performance, Relative Deprivation and Generalised Gini Indices of Inequality and Horizontal Inequity," Cahiers de recherche 9514, Université Laval - Département d'économique.
    14. Feldstein, Martin, 1976. "On the theory of tax reform," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(1-2), pages 77-104.
    15. Aronson, J Richard & Johnson, Paul & Lambert, Peter J, 1994. "Redistributive Effects and Unequal Income Tax Treatment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(423), pages 262-270, March.
    16. Dasgupta, Partha & Sen, Amartya & Starrett, David, 1973. "Notes on the measurement of inequality," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 6(2), pages 180-187, April.
    17. Donaldson, David & Weymark, John A., 1980. "A single-parameter generalization of the Gini indices of inequality," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 67-86, February.
    18. Garry F. Barrett & Krishna Pendakur, 1995. "The Asymptotic Distribution of the Generalized Gini Indices of Inequality," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 28(4b), pages 1042-1055, November.
    19. Blackorby, Charles & Donaldson, David, 1978. "Measures of relative equality and their meaning in terms of social welfare," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 59-80, June.
    20. John D. Hey & Peter J. Lambert, 1980. "Relative Deprivation and the Gini Coefficient: Comment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 95(3), pages 567-573.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Duclos, Jean-Yves & Jalbert, Vincent & Araar, Abdelkrim, 2000. "Classical Horizontal Inequity and Reranking: an Integrated Approach," Cahiers de recherche 0002, Université Laval - Département d'économique.
    2. Marcelin Joanis & Edgard Rodriguez, 2013. "Public Redistribution and Inequality in a Period of Fiscal Consolidation: A Decomposition Analysis for Canada in the 1980s and 1990s," Economic Papers, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 32(2), pages 218-238, June.

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ris:actuec:v:75:y:1999:i:1:p:95-122. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Bruce Shearer). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.