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Polarization: Concepts, Measurement, Estimation

  • Jean-Yves Duclos
  • Joan Esteban
  • Debraj Ray

The purpose of this paper is two-fold. First, we develop the measurement theory of polarization for the case in which income distributions can be described using density functions. Second, we provide sample estimators of population polarization indices that can be used to compare polarization across time or entities. Distribution-free statistical inference results are also derived in order to ensure that the orderings of polarization across entities are not simply due to sampling noise. An illustration of the use of these tools using data from 21 countries shows that polarization and inequality orderings can often differ in practice.

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Paper provided by Barcelona Graduate School of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 46.

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Date of creation: Sep 2015
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:bge:wpaper:46
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  1. Davidson, R. & Duclos, J.Y., 1995. "Statistical Inference for the Measurement of the Incidence of Taxes and Transfers," Papers 9521, Laval - Recherche en Politique Economique.
  2. Esteban, J. & Ray, D., 1993. "On the Measurement of Polarization," UFAE and IAE Working Papers 221.93, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC).
  3. HÄRDLE, Wolfgang, 1992. "Applied nonparametric methods," CORE Discussion Papers 1992003, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  4. Esteban, Joan & Ray, Debraj, 1999. "Conflict and Distribution," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 87(2), pages 379-415, August.
  5. Beach, Charles M & Davidson, Russell, 1983. "Distribution-Free Statistical Inference with Lorenz Curves and Income Shares," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(4), pages 723-35, October.
  6. Alberto Alesina & Enrico Spolaore, 1995. "On the Number and Size of Nations," NBER Working Papers 5050, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Anderson, Gordon, 1996. "Nonparametric Tests of Stochastic Dominance in Income Distributions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 64(5), pages 1183-93, September.
  9. Gradin, Carlos, 2000. "Polarization by Sub-populations in Spain, 1973-91," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 46(4), pages 457-74, December.
  10. Bishop, John A & Chakraborti, S & Thistle, Paul D, 1989. "Asymptotically Distribution-Free Statistical Inference for Generalized Lorenz Curves," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 71(4), pages 725-27, November.
  11. Davidson, Russell & Duclos, Jean-Yves, 1998. "Statistical Inference for Stochastic Dominance and for the Measurement of Poverty and Inequality," Cahiers de recherche 9805, Université Laval - Département d'économique.
  12. Davies, J. B. & Shorrocks, A. F., 1989. "Optimal grouping of income and wealth data," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 97-108, September.
  13. Beach, Charles M & Richmond, James, 1985. "Joint Confidence Intervals for Income Shares and Lorenz Curves," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 26(2), pages 439-50, June.
  14. Kakwani, Nanak, 1993. "Statistical Inference in the Measurement of Poverty," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 75(4), pages 632-39, November.
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  16. Oliver LINTON, . "Applied nonparametric methods," Statistic und Oekonometrie 9312, Humboldt Universitaet Berlin.
  17. Wolfson, Michael C, 1994. "When Inequalities Diverge," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(2), pages 353-58, May.
  18. Chakravarty, Satya R & Majumder, Amita, 2001. "Inequality, Polarisation and Welfare: Theory and Applications," Australian Economic Papers, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 40(1), pages 1-13, March.
  19. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521586115 is not listed on IDEAS
  20. 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.
  21. Juan G. Rodríguez & Rafael Salas, . "Extended Bi-Polarization And Inequality Measures," Working Papers 10-03 Classification-JEL , Instituto de Estudios Fiscales.
  22. Conchita D'Ambrosio & Edward N. Wolff, . "Is Wealth Becoming More Polarized in the United States?," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_330, Levy Economics Institute.
  23. Wang, You-Qiang & Tsui, Kai-Yuen, 2000. " Polarization Orderings and New Classes of Polarization Indices," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 2(3), pages 349-63.
  24. Wolfson, Michael C, 1997. "Divergent Inequalities: Theory and Empirical Results," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 43(4), pages 401-21, December.
  25. Esteban, J. & Gradin, C. & Ray, D., 1999. "Extension of a Measure of Polarization, with an Application to the Income Distribution of Five OECD Countries," Papers 24, El Instituto de Estudios Economicos de Galicia Pedro Barrie de la Maza.
  26. Chakravarty, Satya R. & Dutta, Bhaskar, 1990. "Migration and welfare," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 6(1), pages 119-138, August.
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