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Economic Growth from the Household Perspective: GDP and Income Distribution Developments Across OECD Countries


  • Orsetta Causa


  • Sonia Araujo


  • Agnès Cavaciuti


  • Nicolas Ruiz


  • Zuzana Smidova



This paper provides an assessment of how households’ income has fared compared with GDP. While the prime focus is on incomes around the median, attention is paid also to the bottom of the income distribution. Thus, one contribution of the paper is to deliver a fresh assessment of the evolution of inequality and poverty across OECD countries over the last fifteen years. The analysis relies on a rich array of indicators, producing new evidence of the various patterns of differences in income distributions across countries and over time. For example, it assesses the extent to which stability in overall income inequality masks compensating changes between the lower and upper halves of the income distribution. Also, it explores whether contracting inequalities coexist with increasing poverty. The paper adds to previous studies by introducing, measuring and analysing income polarisation in a cross-country comparative perspective. Distinguishing polarisation from inequality and comparing their evolution over time provides new policy-relevant perspectives on the nature of the changing income distribution. La croissance du point de vue des ménages : PIB et distribution des revenus dans les pays de l'OCDE Cet article analyse les évolutions des revenus des ménages en comparaison avec celles du produit intérieur brut (PIB). L’analyse se concentre sur les revenus proches de la médiane, mais une attention particulière est également portée aux bas revenus. Ainsi, une des contributions de ce rapport est de dégager un nouveau diagnostic de l’évolution des inégalités et de la pauvreté au cours des quinze dernières années dans les pays de l’OCDE. L’analyse repose sur un ensemble riche d’indicateurs, et produit une description fine de la nature des différences de distribution du revenu entre pays et au cours du temps. Par exemple, l’article montre qu’un niveau stable de l’inégalité dans son ensemble peut masquer des changements en sens inverse et qui se compensent entre la moitié haute et la moitié basse de la distribution. Aussi, l’article explore la possibilité que la réduction des inégalités puisse s’accompagner d’une hausse de la pauvreté. L’analyse étend les études précédentes en introduisant, mesurant et analysant la polarisation des revenus, et ce dans une perspective comparative entre pays. La distinction entre le concept de polarisation de celui d’inégalité et la comparaison de leur évolution au cours du temps portent un éclairage nouveau, y compris en matière de politique économique, quant à la nature des changements de distribution du revenu.

Suggested Citation

  • Orsetta Causa & Sonia Araujo & Agnès Cavaciuti & Nicolas Ruiz & Zuzana Smidova, 2014. "Economic Growth from the Household Perspective: GDP and Income Distribution Developments Across OECD Countries," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 1111, OECD Publishing.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:ecoaaa:1111-en

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    Cited by:

    1. Orsetta Causa & Alain de Serres & Nicolas Ruiz, 2015. "Can pro-growth policies lift all boats?: An analysis based on household disposable income," OECD Journal: Economic Studies, OECD Publishing, vol. 2015(1), pages 227-268.
    2. Henrik Braconier & Jenifer Ruiz-Valenzuela, 2014. "Gross Earning Inequalities in OECD Countries and Major Non-member Economies: Determinants and Future Scenarios," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 1139, OECD Publishing.

    More about this item


    classe moyenne; distribution des revenus; income distribution; inequality; inégalités; median income; middle class; pauvreté; polarisation; polarisation; poverty; revenu médian;

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty

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