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Social polarization vs income polarization: An international comparison


  • Damien Echevin

    () (GREDI, Département d'économique, Université de Sherbrooke)


This paper tackles the issues of social polarization and income polarization in several North American, European and Australian countries in the perspective of redistribution patterns. Presenting a simple theoretical framework, we argue that comparing both types of polarization can help predict the level of redistribution in those countries. We thus propose an accuracy test that consists in predicting a redistribution ordering between countries and compare it with the observed one. Only countries where social polarization ranking and income polarization ranking differ are considered. As a result, we find that our prediction is accurate for about 70% of these pairs of countries.

Suggested Citation

  • Damien Echevin, 2008. "Social polarization vs income polarization: An international comparison," Cahiers de recherche 08-02, Departement d'Economique de l'École de gestion à l'Université de Sherbrooke.
  • Handle: RePEc:shr:wpaper:08-02

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Arnaud Lefranc & Alain Trannoy, 2005. "Intergenerational earnings mobility in France: Is France more mobile than the U.S.?," Annals of Economics and Statistics, GENES, issue 78, pages 57-77.
    2. Thomas Piketty, 1995. "Social Mobility and Redistributive Politics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(3), pages 551-584.
    3. Wolfson, Michael C, 1994. "When Inequalities Diverge," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(2), pages 353-358, May.
    4. Duclos, Jean-Yves & Echevin, Damien, 2005. "Bi-polarization comparisons," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 87(2), pages 249-258, May.
    5. Roland Bénabou, 1996. "Inequality and Growth," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1996, Volume 11, pages 11-92 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. 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 349-363.
    7. Esteban, Joan & Ray, Debraj, 1999. "Conflict and Distribution," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 87(2), pages 379-415, August.
    8. Bjorklund, Anders & Jantti, Markus, 1997. "Intergenerational Income Mobility in Sweden Compared to the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(5), pages 1009-1018, December.
    9. Allison, R. Andrew & Foster, James E., 2004. "Measuring health inequality using qualitative data," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 505-524, May.
    10. Alberto Alesina & Edward Glaeser & Bruce Sacerdote, 2001. "Why Doesn't the US Have a European-Style Welfare System?," NBER Working Papers 8524, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    More about this item


    Polarization; Self-reported social status; Income distribution;

    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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