IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

The median as watershed

This paper is concerned with concepts – poverty, inequality, affluence, and polarization – that are typically treated in different literatures. Our aim here is to place them within a common framework and to identify the way in which different classes of income transfers contribute to different objectives. In particular, we examine the role of transfers that preserve both the mean and the median, and the importance of distinguishing between transfers across the median and transfers on one side of the median. The aim of the paper is to bring out some of the implications of adopting the median as a dividing line for these measurement purposes, particularly with respect to the robustness of the conclusions reached. In doing so, we develop the two alternative approaches – primal and dual – applied to Lorenz curves in Aaberge (2001). Our focus is on “well-off” countries where poverty is a minority, rather than a majority, phenomenon. At the other end of the scale, rich people are found in all countries, but less attention has been paid to the definition of cut-offs for affluence. The measurement of “affluence” can proceed along similar lines to the measurement of poverty. The threshold may be set, relatively, as a percentage of the median, and we can ask similar questions about the sensitivity and seek similar dominance results. Moreover, we focus on societies that have a middle class in the sense that the median person is never defined as “rich”. The motivation of Foster and Wolfson’s paper “Polarization and the decline of the middle class” (1992/2010) was the sensitivity of conclusions to the – essentially arbitrary – definition of the middle class. They proposed “a range-free approach to measuring the middle class and polarization based on partial orderings” (2010, page 247). We introduce an alternative partial ordering defined in terms of a bi-polarization curve capturing the distance from the median.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL: http://www.ssb.no/en/forskning/discussion-papers/_attachment/130759?_ts=14033e6abd0
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Research Department of Statistics Norway in its series Discussion Papers with number 749.

as
in new window

Length:
Date of creation: Aug 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ssb:dispap:749
Contact details of provider: Postal: P.O.Box 8131 Dep, N-0033 Oslo, Norway
Phone: (+47) 21 09 00 00
Fax: (+47) 21 09 49 73
Web page: http://www.ssb.no/en/
Email:


More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Yaari, Menahem E, 1987. "The Dual Theory of Choice under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(1), pages 95-115, January.
  2. Green, Jerry R & Jullien, Bruno, 1988. " Ordinal Independence in Nonlinear Utility Theory," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 1(4), pages 355-87, December.
  3. Andreas Peichl & Thilo Schaefer & Christoph Scheicher, 2010. "Measuring Richness And Poverty: A Micro Data Application To Europe And Germany," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 56(3), pages 597-619, 09.
  4. Rolf Aaberge, 2000. "Characterizations of Lorenz curves and income distributions," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 17(4), pages 639-653.
  5. Joan-Maria Esteban & Debraj Ray, 1991. "On the Measurement of Polarization," Boston University - Institute for Economic Development 18, Boston University, Institute for Economic Development.
  6. Atkinson, Anthony B., 1970. "On the measurement of inequality," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 244-263, September.
  7. Walter Bossert & William Schworm, 2007. "A Class of Two-Group Polarization Measures," Discussion Papers 2007-34, School of Economics, The University of New South Wales.
  8. Rolf Aaberge & Magne Mogstad, 2009. "On the Measurement of Long-Term Income Inequality and Income Mobility," ICER Working Papers 09-2009, ICER - International Centre for Economic Research.
  9. Wolfson, Michael C, 1994. "When Inequalities Diverge," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(2), pages 353-58, May.
  10. Garfinkel, Michelle R. & Skaperdas, Stergios (ed.), 2012. "The Oxford Handbook of the Economics of Peace and Conflict," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195392777, March.
  11. 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.
  12. Duclos, Jean-Yves & Esteban, Joan & Ray, Debraj, 2003. "Polarization: Concepts, Measurement, Estimation," Cahiers de recherche 0301, CIRPEE.
  13. Aaberge, Rolf, 2001. "Axiomatic Characterization of the Gini Coefficient and Lorenz Curve Orderings," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 101(1), pages 115-132, November.
  14. Atkinson, A B, 1987. "On the Measurement of Poverty," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(4), pages 749-64, July.
  15. Aaberge, Rolf, 2008. "Ranking Intersecting Lorenz Curves," IZA Discussion Papers 3852, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  16. Esteban, Joan & Ray, Debraj, 1999. "Conflict and Distribution," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 87(2), pages 379-415, August.
  17. Sen, Pranab Kumar, 1988. "The harmonic Gini coefficient and affluence indexes," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 16(1), pages 65-76, August.
  18. Shorrocks, Anthony F, 1995. "Revisiting the Sen Poverty Index," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 63(5), pages 1225-30, September.
  19. Foster, James & Greer, Joel & Thorbecke, Erik, 1984. "A Class of Decomposable Poverty Measures," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(3), pages 761-66, May.
  20. Sen, Amartya K, 1976. "Poverty: An Ordinal Approach to Measurement," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 44(2), pages 219-31, March.
  21. Michal Brzezinski, 2010. "Income Affluence in Poland," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 99(2), pages 285-299, November.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ssb:dispap:749. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (J Bruusgaard)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.