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Income redistribution going awry: The reversal power of the concern for relative deprivation

  • Sorger, Gerhard
  • Stark, Oded

We demonstrate that a rank-preserving transfer from a richer individual to a poorer individual can exacerbate income inequality (when inequality is measured by the Gini coefficient). This happens when individuals’ preferences depend negatively not only on work time (effort) but also on low relative income. It is rigorously shown that the set of preference profiles that gives rise to this perverse effect of a transfer on inequality is a non-empty open subset of all preference profiles. A robust example illustrates this result.

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Paper provided by University of Bonn, Center for Development Research (ZEF) in its series Discussion Papers with number 142407.

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Date of creation: Dec 2012
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Handle: RePEc:ags:ubzefd:142407
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  2. Stark, Oded & Fan, C. Simon, 2011. "Migration for degrading work as an escape from humiliation," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 77(3), pages 241-247, March.
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  4. Oded Stark & Walter Hyll & Yong Wang, 2010. "Endogenous Selection of Comparison Groups, Human Capital Formation, and Tax Policy," Vienna Economics Papers 1009, University of Vienna, Department of Economics.
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  9. Hyll, Walter & Stark, Oded, 2011. "On the economic architecture of the workplace: repercussions of social comparisons amongst heterogeneous workers," University of Tuebingen Working Papers in Economics and Finance 6, University of Tuebingen, Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences.
  10. Clark, Andrew E. & Senik, Claudia, 2009. "Who Compares to Whom? The Anatomy of Income Comparisons in Europe," IZA Discussion Papers 4414, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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  12. 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.
  13. BOSSERT, Walter & D'AMBROSIO, Conchita, 2004. "Reference Groups and Individual Deprivation," Cahiers de recherche 2004-10, Universite de Montreal, Departement de sciences economiques.
  14. Sen, Amartya, 1973. "On Economic Inequality," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198281931, March.
  15. Daniel J. ZIZZO & Andrew J. OSWALD, 2001. "Are People Willing to Pay to Reduce Others'Incomes?," Annales d'Economie et de Statistique, ENSAE, issue 63-64, pages 39-65.
  16. Fliessbach, Klaus & Weber, Bernd & Trautner, P. & Dohmen, Thomas J. & Sunde, Uwe & Elger, C. E. & Falk, Armin, 2007. "Social comparison affects reward-related brain activity in the human ventral striatum," Munich Reprints in Economics 20362, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  17. 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.
  18. Atkinson, Anthony B., 1970. "On the measurement of inequality," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 244-263, September.
  19. Erzo F.P. Luttmer, 2004. "Neighbors as Negatives: Relative Earnings and Well-Being," NBER Working Papers 10667, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Clark, Andrew E. & Frijters, Paul & Shields, Michael A., 2007. "Relative Income, Happiness and Utility: An Explanation for the Easterlin Paradox and Other Puzzles," IZA Discussion Papers 2840, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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  25. Lambert, Peter J & Aronson, J Richard, 1993. "Inequality Decomposition Analysis and the Gini Coefficient Revisited," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 103(420), pages 1221-27, September.
  26. Hey, John D & Lambert, Peter J, 1980. "Relative Deprivation and the Gini Coefficient: Comment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 95(3), pages 567-73, November.
  27. Bossert, Walter, 1990. "An axiomatization of the single-series Ginis," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 82-92, February.
  28. Shorrocks, Anthony F, 1984. "Inequality Decomposition by Population Subgroups," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(6), pages 1369-85, November.
  29. Stark, Oded & Taylor, J Edward, 1991. "Migration Incentives, Migration Types: The Role of Relative Deprivation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 101(408), pages 1163-78, September.
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