Growth, Income Distribution, and Well-Being: Comparisons across Space and Time
We use several well-being measures that combine average income with a measure of inequality to undertake international, intertemporal, and global comparisons of well-being. The conclusions emerging from the analysis are that our well-being measures drastically change our impression of levels of well-being at the national and, more so, at the global level. They also significantly affect the ranking of countries, when compared to rankings based on real incomes. The impact on these measures on temporal trends in well-being is smaller on average, but significant for a number of countries where inequality changed considerably in past decades. These results appear not very sensitive to the data on inequality which this analysis is based upon. However, since the inclusion of inequality has an important impact on wellbeing comparisons and it is of great importance to generate more consistent and intertemporally as well as internationally comparable data on inequality that are necessary for such comparisons.
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