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A Class of Two-Group Polarization Measures

  • Bossert, Walter
  • Schworm, William

The phenomenon of income polarization is generally associated with a disappearing middle class but there does not seem to be a generally accepted definition of this notion. We characterize classes of polarization quasi-orderings and polarization measures in a framework where there are two income groups separated by the median. The axioms we employ are variants of within-group clustering and between-group spread properties, and an independence property. Furthermore, we illustrate that attempts to extend the axioms to more general settings severely restrict their appeal and conclude that alternative approaches may be required to capture concepts involving polarization. Copyright � 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc..

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Paper provided by Universite de Montreal, Departement de sciences economiques in its series Cahiers de recherche with number 2007-09.

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Length: 21 pages
Date of creation: 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mtl:montde:2007-09
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  1. Schultz, Christian, 1996. "Polarization and Inefficient Policies," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 63(2), pages 331-44, April.
  2. Shorrocks, Anthony F, 1983. "Ranking Income Distributions," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 50(197), pages 3-17, February.
  3. Ravallion, Martin & Chen, Shaohua, 1997. "What Can New Survey Data Tell Us about Recent Changes in Distribution and Poverty?," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 11(2), pages 357-82, May.
  4. Jean-Yves Duclos & Joan Esteban & Debraj Ray, 2003. "Polarization: Concepts, Measurement, Estimation," Working Papers 46, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  5. Joan Esteban & Carlos Gradín & Debraj Ray, 2007. "An Extension of a Measure of Polarization, with an application to the income distribution of five OECD countries," Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer, vol. 5(1), pages 1-19, April.
  6. D'Ambrosio, Conchita, 2001. "Household Characteristics and the Distribution of Income in Italy: An Application of Social Distance Measures," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 47(1), pages 43-64, March.
  7. Joan-Maria Esteban & Debraj Ray, 1991. "On the Measurement of Polarization," Boston University - Institute for Economic Development 18, Boston University, Institute for Economic Development.
  8. Chakravarty, Satya R & Majumder, Amita, 2001. "Inequality, Polarisation and Welfare: Theory and Applications," Australian Economic Papers, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 40(1), pages 1-13, March.
  9. Seshanna, Shubhasree & Decornez, Stephane, 2003. "Income polarization and inequality across countries: an empirical study," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 25(4), pages 335-358, June.
  10. Zhang, Siao-Bo & Kanbur, Ravi, 1999. "What Difference Do Polarization Measures Make? An Application To China," Working Papers 7224, Cornell University, Department of Applied Economics and Management.
  11. Gradin, Carlos, 2000. "Polarization by Sub-populations in Spain, 1973-91," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 46(4), pages 457-74, December.
  12. Wolfson, Michael C, 1997. "Divergent Inequalities: Theory and Empirical Results," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 43(4), pages 401-21, December.
  13. Wang, You-Qiang & Tsui, Kai-Yuen, 2000. " Polarization Orderings and New Classes of Polarization Indices," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 2(3), pages 349-63.
  14. Esteban, Joan & Ray, Debraj, 1999. "Conflict and Distribution," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 87(2), pages 379-415, August.
  15. Wolfson, Michael C, 1994. "When Inequalities Diverge," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(2), pages 353-58, May.
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