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Accounting for income distribution trends: A density function decomposition approach

  • Jenkins, Stephen P.

    (ISER, University of Essex, UK)

  • Van Kerm, Philippe

    (CEPS/INSTEAD, G.-D. Luxembourg)

This paper develops methods for decomposing changes in the income distribution using subgroup decompositions of the income density function. Overall changes are related to changes in subgroup shares and changes in subgroup densities, where the latter are broken down further using elementary transformations of individual incomes. These density decompositions are analogous to the widely-used decompositions of inequality indices by population subgroup, except that they summarize multiple features of the income distribution (using graphs), rather than focusing on a specific feature such as dispersion, and are not dependent on the choice of a specific summary index. Nonetheless, since inequality and poverty indices can be expressed as PDF functionals, our density-based methods can also be used to provide numerical decompositions of these. An application of the methods reveals the multi-faceted nature of UK income distribution trends during the 1980s.

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Paper provided by IRISS at CEPS/INSTEAD in its series IRISS Working Paper Series with number 2004-07.

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Length: 24 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2004
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in Journal of Economic Inequality,2005, vol. 3, no. 1, pp. 43-61
Handle: RePEc:irs:iriswp:2004-07
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  1. Shorrocks, Anthony F, 1984. "Inequality Decomposition by Population Subgroups," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(6), pages 1369-85, November.
  2. Philippe Van Kerm, 2003. "Adaptive kernel density estimation," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 3(2), pages 148-156, June.
  3. Cowell, F.A., 2000. "Measurement of inequality," Handbook of Income Distribution, in: A.B. Atkinson & F. Bourguignon (ed.), Handbook of Income Distribution, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 2, pages 87-166 Elsevier.
  4. Dasgupta, Partha & Sen, Amartya & Starrett, David, 1973. "Notes on the measurement of inequality," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 6(2), pages 180-187, April.
  5. Mookherjee, Dilip & Shorrocks, Anthony F, 1982. "A Decomposition Analysis of the Trend in UK Income Inequality," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 92(368), pages 886-902, December.
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