IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

What Difference Do Polarization Measures Make? An Application To China


  • Zhang, Siao-Bo
  • Kanbur, Ravi


In recent years there has been much discussion of the difference between Inequality and Polarization. The vast literature on inequality is held to miss out key features of distribution change, which are better described as changes in the polarization. Axioms have been proposed which capture some of these differences, and measures of polarization, as distinct from inequality, have been suggested. The theoretical distinctions proposed in this literature are indeed interesting. But the question remains what difference does it all make in actual application? Do the newly proposed measures of polarization give dramatically different results in comparing societies over time, or with each other? We address these questions for China, where dramatic increase in inequality and polarization have been much discussed in the literature. We find that, contrary to theoretical expectation, empirically the new measures of polarization do not give us very different results from the standard measures of inequality. The paper ends by considering a different way of thinking about polarization which might better conform to the empirical patterns observed, and policy concerns expressed.

Suggested Citation

  • Zhang, Siao-Bo & Kanbur, Ravi, 1999. "What Difference Do Polarization Measures Make? An Application To China," Working Papers 7224, Cornell University, Department of Applied Economics and Management.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:cudawp:7224
    DOI: 10.22004/ag.econ.7224

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL:
    LibKey link: if access is restricted and if your library uses this service, LibKey will redirect you to where you can use your library subscription to access this item

    Other versions of this item:

    More about this item


    Political Economy;


    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:ags:cudawp:7224. 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: . 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.

    We have no bibliographic references for this item. You can help adding them by using 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.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: AgEcon Search (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    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.