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Taking Prices Seriously in the Measurement of Inequality

  • Pendakur, K.

In the measurement of inequality, adjustments for differences across households in their demographic composition and in the price regimes they face are usually very simple. Often, nominal income is adjusted with an income-independent price deflator and a price-independent equivalence scale. I show that using more flexible income-dependent price deflators and price-dependent equivalence scales affects the level of, and trend in, measured consumption inequality in Canada over 1978-1996. Whereas standard methods show a large increase in inequality over the eraly 1980s and a decrease over the mid 1990s, more flexible methods show a smaller increase over the early 1980s and no decrease over the mid 1990s.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University in its series Discussion Papers with number dp99-7.

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Length: 30 pages
Date of creation: 1999
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:sfu:sfudps:dp99-7
Contact details of provider: Postal: Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University, 8888 University Drive, Burnaby, BC, V5A 1S6, Canada
Phone: (778)782-3508
Fax: (778)782-5944
Web page: http://www.sfu.ca/economics.html

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Order Information: Postal: Working Paper Coordinator, Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University, 8888 University Drive, Burnaby, BC, V5A 1S6, Canada
Web: http://www.sfu.ca/economics/research/publications.html Email:


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  1. Buhmann, Brigitte, et al, 1988. "Equivalence Scales, Well-Being, Inequality, and Poverty: Sensitivity Estimates across Ten Countries Using the Luxembourg Income Study (LIS) Database," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 34(2), pages 115-42, June.
  2. Phipps, S.A., 1990. "Measuring Poverty Among Canadian Households: Sensitivity To Choice Of Measure And Scale," Department of Economics at Dalhousie University working papers archive 90-07, Dalhousie, Department of Economics.
  3. Pollak, Robert A & Wales, Terence J, 1979. "Welfare Comparisons and Equivalence Scales," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(2), pages 216-21, May.
  4. Pendakur, Krishna, 1998. "Semiparametric estimates and tests of base-independent equivalence scales," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 88(1), pages 1-40, November.
  5. Yates, Judith, 1994. "Imputed Rent and Income Distribution," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 40(1), pages 43-66, March.
  6. Garry Barrett & Thomas Crossley & Christopher Worswick, 1999. "Consumption and Income Inequality in Australia," CEPR Discussion Papers 404, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
  7. Gouveia, Miguel & Tavares, Jose, 1995. "The Distribution of Household Income and Expenditure in Portugal: 1980 and 1990," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 41(1), pages 1-17, March.
  8. Richard Blundell & Ian Preston, 1997. "Consumption, inequality and income uncertainty," IFS Working Papers W97/15, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  9. Diewert, W E, 1974. "Intertemporal Consumer Theory and the Demand for Durables," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 42(3), pages 497-516, May.
  10. Daniel T. Slesnick, 1998. "Empirical Approaches to the Measurement of Welfare," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(4), pages 2108-2165, December.
  11. Lancaster, Geoffrey & Ray, Ranjan & Valenzuela, Maria Rebecca, 1999. "A Cross-Country Study of Equivalence Scales and Expenditure Inequality on Unit Record Household Budget Data," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 45(4), pages 455-82, December.
  12. Apps,Patricia Savage,Elizabeth, 1987. "Labour supply,Welfare rankings and the measurement of inequality," Discussion Paper Serie A 152, University of Bonn, Germany.
  13. Smeeding, Timothy M, et al, 1993. "Poverty, Inequality, and Family Living Standards Impacts across Seven Nations: The Effect of Noncash Subsidies for Health, Education and Housing," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 39(3), pages 229-56, September.
  14. Richard Blundell & Alan Duncan & Krishna Pendakur, 1998. "Semiparametric estimation and consumer demand," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 13(5), pages 435-461.
  15. Donaldson, David, 1992. "On The Aggregation Of Money Measures Of Well-Being In Applied Welfare Economics," Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Western Agricultural Economics Association, vol. 17(01), July.
  16. Donaldson, D. & Pendakur, K., 1999. "Equivalent-Income Functions and Income-Dependent Equivalence Scales," Discussion Papers dp99-8, Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University.
  17. Idson, Todd & Miller, Cynthia, 1999. "Calculating a Price Index for Families with Children: Implications for Measuring Trends in Child Poverty Rates," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 45(2), pages 217-33, June.
  18. James Banks & Richard Blundell & Arthur Lewbel, 1997. "Quadratic Engel Curves And Consumer Demand," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 79(4), pages 527-539, November.
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  20. King, Mervyn A., 1983. "Welfare analysis of tax reforms using household data," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 183-214, July.
  21. Pashardes, Panos, 1995. "Equivalence scales in a rank-3 demand system," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(1), pages 143-158, September.
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