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International Multidimensional Comparisons of Inequality in Disposable Income and Access to Public Goods

This paper provides a comparison of 12 OECD countries on the basis of the (multidimensional) inequality in both disposable income and access to public goods. The public goods considered, measured at the regional level, are infant mortality and pupils/teacher ratios at public schools. The comparison is performed using recent multidimensional dominance criteria developped along the seminal lines of Atkinson and Bourguignon [3]. The comparisons reveal that, despite their possible undecisiveness which increase with the number of dimensions, the criteria are able to provide conclusive rankings in about 36% of the comparisons (against 78% in the case of unidimensional income inequality comparisons based on the generalized Lorenz criterion). We also complete the analysis by comparing multidimensional inequalities on the basis of two broad categories of indices. All in all, the introduction of the two public goods modifies the inequality-based ranking of the countries. The most significant modification that it entails is to reduce the relative ranking of countries such as Australia and United State who perform badly in terms of both the level and the distribution of the two public goods and to increase the position of Portugal. Yet, it appears that the (positive) correlation between unidimensional and multidimensional indices is quite high, suggesting that a comparison of the countries based on income inequality alone does not provide a bad approximation of a ranking of the same countries resulting from multidimensional comparisons.

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Paper provided by Institut d'economie publique (IDEP), Marseille, France in its series IDEP Working Papers with number 0506.

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Length: 38 pages
Date of creation: 08 Jun 2005
Date of revision: 08 Jun 2005
Handle: RePEc:iep:wpidep:0506
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