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Decomposing Inequality and Social Welfare Changes: The Use of Alternative Welfare Metrics

  • John Creedy

    (Department of Economics, The University of Melbourne)

  • Nicolas Hérault


    (Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne)

This paper presents two 'non-welfarist' approaches and one 'welfarist' approach to decompose changes in inequality and social welfare into three components. We distinguish the contributions of population, tax policy and labour supply behavioural effects. As an illustration, we decompose changes in inequality and in values of a social welfare function in Australia between 2001 and 2006. Inequality is first defined in non-welfarist terms as a function of disposable income: the independent judge places no value on leisure. Then this is modified to allow for evaluations using a weighted geometric mean of disposable income and leisure. This is seen to modify the evaluation of changes in important ways. Furthermore, the results are shown to be quite different from those obtained using a 'welfarist' evaluation in terms of money metric utility, where separate behavioural effects cannot be isolated.

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Paper provided by Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne in its series Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series with number wp2011n08.

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Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iae:iaewps:wp2011n08
Contact details of provider: Postal: Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne, Victoria 3010 Australia
Phone: +61 3 8344 2100
Fax: +61 3 8344 2111
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  1. Giuseppe Pignataro, 2010. "Measuring equality of opportunity by Shapley value," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 30(1), pages 786-798.
  2. Aaberge, Rolf & Colombino, Ugo, 2006. "Designing Optimal Taxes with a Microeconometric Model of Household Labour Supply," IZA Discussion Papers 2468, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Olivier Bargain, 2009. "The Distributional Effects of Tax-benefit Policies under New Labour: A Shapley Decomposition," Working Papers 200918, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
  4. Frank Cowell & Carlo Fiorio, 2011. "Inequality decompositions—a reconciliation," Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer, vol. 9(4), pages 509-528, December.
  5. Richard Blundell & Andrew Shephard, 2011. "Employment, Hours of Work and the Optimal Taxation of Low Income Families," Working Papers 1307, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Center for Economic Policy Studies..
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  7. Ericson, Peter & Flood, Lennart, 2009. "A Microsimulation Approach to an Optimal Swedish Income Tax," IZA Discussion Papers 4379, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. John Creedy & Alan S. Duncan & Mark Harris & Rosanna Scutella, 2002. "Microsimulation Modelling of Taxation and the Labour Market," Books, Edward Elgar, number 2796, April.
  9. Louis Kaplow & Steven Shavell, 2001. "Any Non-welfarist Method of Policy Assessment Violates the Pareto Principle," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(2), pages 281-286, April.
  10. Arthur Charpentier & Stephane Mussard, 2010. "Income Inequality Games," Cahiers de recherche 10-03, Departement d'Economique de la Faculte d'administration à l'Universite de Sherbrooke.
  11. John Creedy & Guyonne Kalb & Rosanna Scutella, 2006. "Income distribution in discrete hours behavioural microsimulation models: An illustration," Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer, vol. 4(1), pages 57-76, April.
  12. John Creedy & Nicolas Hérault & Guyonne Kalb, 2011. "Measuring welfare changes in behavioural microsimulation modelling: Accounting for the random utility component," Journal of Applied Economics, Universidad del CEMA, vol. 0, pages 5-34, May.
  13. M. Fleurbaey & F. Maniquet, 1999. "Optimal income taxation : An ordinal approach," THEMA Working Papers 99-43, THEMA (THéorie Economique, Modélisation et Applications), Université de Cergy-Pontoise.
  14. Robin Boadway & Maurice Marchand & Pierre Pestieau & María del Mar Racionero, 2002. "Optimal Redistribution with Heterogeneous Preferences for Leisure," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 4(4), pages 475-498, October.
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  16. Olivier Bargain, 2010. "Back to the future - decomposition analysis of distributive policies using behavioural simulations," Working Papers 201032, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
  17. Blackorby, Charles & Laisney, Francois & Schmachtenberg, Rolf, 1993. "Reference-price-independent welfare prescriptions," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 63-76, January.
  18. Stanislav Kolenikov & Anthony Shorrocks, 2005. "A Decomposition Analysis of Regional Poverty in Russia," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 9(1), pages 25-46, 02.
  19. John Creedy & Guyonne Kalb, 2005. "Measuring Welfare Changes In Labour Supply Models," Manchester School, University of Manchester, vol. 73(6), pages 664-685, December.
  20. Stéphane Mussard, 2005. "Une réconciliation entre la décomposition en sous-groupes et la décomposition en sources de revenu de l’indice de Gini La multi-décomposition de l’indicateur de Gini," Cahiers de recherche 05-06, Departement d'Economique de la Faculte d'administration à l'Universite de Sherbrooke.
  21. Mercedes Sastre & Alain Trannoy, 2002. "Shapley inequality decomposition by factor components: Some methodological issues," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 77(1), pages 51-89, December.
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  24. Ramani Gunatilaka & Duangkamon Chotikapanich, 2006. "Inequality Trends and Determinants in Sri Lanka 1980-2002: A Shapley Approach to Decomposition," Monash Econometrics and Business Statistics Working Papers 6/06, Monash University, Department of Econometrics and Business Statistics.
  25. Banks, James & Johnson, Paul, 1994. "Equivalence Scale Relativities Revisited," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(425), pages 883-90, July.
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  27. Donaldson, David, 1992. "On The Aggregation Of Money Measures Of Well-Being In Applied Welfare Economics," Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Western Agricultural Economics Association, vol. 17(01), July.
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