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Measuring Economic Insecurity

  • Walter Bossert


    (Department of Economics and CIREQ, University of Montreal)

  • Conchita D'Ambrosio


    (Università di Milano-Bicocca, DIW Berlin and Econpubblica, Università Bocconi)

We provide a systematic treatment of the notion of economic insecurity, assuming that an individual’s sentiment of insecurity depends on the current wealth level and its variations experienced in the past. We think of wealth as a comprehensive variable encompassing anything that may help in coping with adverse occurrences. The current wealth level could also be interpreted as incorporating the individual’s evaluation of future prospects. Variations in wealth experienced in the recent past are given higher weight than experiences that occurred in the more distant past. Two classes of measures are characterized with sets of plausible and intuitive axioms.

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Paper provided by ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality in its series Working Papers with number 111.

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Length: 18 pages
Date of creation: 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:inq:inqwps:ecineq2009-111
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  1. Weymark, John A., 1981. "Generalized gini inequality indices," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 1(4), pages 409-430, August.
  2. Atkinson, Anthony B., 1970. "On the measurement of inequality," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 244-263, September.
  3. Lars Osberg, 1998. "Economic Insecurity," Discussion Papers 0088, University of New South Wales, Social Policy Research Centre.
  4. Horst Zank, 2007. "Social welfare functions with a reference income," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 28(4), pages 609-636, June.
  5. Rothschild, Michael & Stiglitz, Joseph E., 1971. "Increasing risk II: Its economic consequences," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 3(1), pages 66-84, March.
  6. Bossert, Walter, 1990. "An axiomatization of the single-series Ginis," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 82-92, February.
  7. 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.
  8. Sen, Amartya, 1973. "On Economic Inequality," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198281931, July.
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