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Linear Measures, the Gini Index and the Income-Equality Tradeoff

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  • Elchanan Ben Porath
  • Itzhak Gilboa

Abstract

The paper provides an axiomatization of linear inequality measures as a representation of a binary relation on the subspace of income profiles having the same total income. Interpreting the binary relation as a preferences (of, say, a policymaker), we extend the axioms to the whole space of income profiles, and find that they characterize linear social evaluation functions. The axiomatiziation seems to suggest that a policymaker who has a linear measure of inequality on a subspace should have a linear evaluation on the whole space. In particular, we find that an extension of the preferences reflected in the Gini index to the whole space is represented by a linear combination of total income and the Gini index.

Suggested Citation

  • Elchanan Ben Porath & Itzhak Gilboa, 1991. "Linear Measures, the Gini Index and the Income-Equality Tradeoff," Discussion Papers 944, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  • Handle: RePEc:nwu:cmsems:944
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Mehran, Farhad, 1976. "Linear Measures of Income Inequality," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 44(4), pages 805-809, July.
    2. Gilboa, Itzhak, 1987. "Expected utility with purely subjective non-additive probabilities," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(1), pages 65-88, February.
    3. Yaari, Menahem E., 1988. "A controversial proposal concerning inequality measurement," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 44(2), pages 381-397, April.
    4. Sheshinski, Eytan, 1972. "Relation between a social welfare function and the gini index of income inequality," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 4(1), pages 98-100, February.
    5. 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.
    6. Ebert, Udo, 1987. "Size and distribution of incomes as determinants of social welfare," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 41(1), pages 23-33, February.
    7. Schmeidler, David, 1989. "Subjective Probability and Expected Utility without Additivity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(3), pages 571-587, May.
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