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Why Measure Inequality?

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  • Louis Kaplow

Abstract

A large body of literature is devoted to the measurement of income inequality, yet little attention is given to the question, Why measure inequality? However, the reasons for measurement bear importantly on whether and how measurement should be done. Upon examination, normative measures are found to be of questionable value. Descriptive measures, by contrast, may be useful, but the appropriate measure depends on the field of application rather than on general, a priori principles of the sort that are emphasized in the existing measurement literature. Measures of poverty are also considered, and similar conclusions are reached.

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  • Louis Kaplow, 2002. "Why Measure Inequality?," NBER Working Papers 9342, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9342
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    Cited by:

    1. Combes, Pierre-Philippe & Overman, Henry G., 2004. "The spatial distribution of economic activities in the European Union," Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, in: J. V. Henderson & J. F. Thisse (ed.), Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 64, pages 2845-2909, Elsevier.
    2. German-Soto, Vicente, 2016. "Un Índice de Desigualdad Regional usando Datos Agregados [A Regional Inequality Index using Aggregated Data]," MPRA Paper 71736, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Daniel Suryadarma & Rima Prama Artha & Asep Suryahadi & Sudarno Sumarto, "undated". "A Reassessment of Inequality and Its Role in Poverty Reduction in Indonesia," Working Papers 364, Publications Department.
    4. Glenn Sheriff & Kelly B. Maguire, 2013. "Ranking Distributions of Environmental Outcomes Across Population Groups," NCEE Working Paper Series 201304, National Center for Environmental Economics, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, revised Aug 2013.
    5. Aristei, David & Perugini, Cristiano, 2010. "Preferences for redistribution and inequality in well-being across Europe," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 176-195, March.
    6. Kaplow, Louis, 2006. "Public goods and the distribution of income," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 50(7), pages 1627-1660, October.
    7. Irina Gerasimova, 2011. "Sources of Income as a Factor of Interregional Social Economic Differentiation of the Russian Population (1995 - 2007 years)," ERSA conference papers ersa10p378, European Regional Science Association.
    8. Dieter Schmidtchen & Christian Koboldt & Jenny Monheim & Birgit Will & Georg Haas, "undated". "The Internalisation of External Costs in Transport: From the Polluter Pays to the Cheapest Cost Avoider Principle," German Working Papers in Law and Economics 2008-1-1214, Berkeley Electronic Press.
    9. Enora Belz, 2019. "Estimating Inequality Measures from Quantile Data," Economics Working Paper Archive (University of Rennes & University of Caen) 2019-09, Center for Research in Economics and Management (CREM), University of Rennes, University of Caen and CNRS.
    10. Heshmati, Almas, 2004. "Data Issues and Databases Used in Analysis of Growth, Poverty and Economic Inequality," IZA Discussion Papers 1263, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    11. Alfonso Mendoza-Velázquez & Daniel Ventosa-Santaulària & Vicente Germán-Soto, 2019. "Mexico’s inter-regional inequality: a convergent process?," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 56(5), pages 1683-1705, May.
    12. Enora Belz, 2019. "Estimating Inequality Measures from Quantile Data," Working Papers halshs-02320110, HAL.
    13. Heshmati, Almas, 2004. "The World Distribution of Income and Income Inequality," IZA Discussion Papers 1267, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    14. Claudia Suárez‐Arbesú & Nicholas Apergis & Francisco J. Delgado, 2023. "Club convergence and factors of income inequality in the European Union," International Journal of Finance & Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 28(4), pages 3654-3666, October.
    15. Glenn Sheriff & Kelly B. Maguire, 2020. "Health Risk, Inequality Indexes, and Environmental Justice," Risk Analysis, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 40(12), pages 2661-2674, December.
    16. Louis Kaplow, 2022. "Optimal Income Taxation," NBER Working Papers 30199, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. Erin T. Mansur & Glenn Sheriff, 2019. "Do Pollution Markets Harm Low Income and Minority Communities? Ranking Emissions Distributions Generated by California's RECLAIM Program," NBER Working Papers 25666, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. Budria, Santiago, 2007. "Economic Inequality in Portugal: A Picture in the Beginnings of the 21st century," MPRA Paper 1784, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement

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