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Inequality Measures, Equivalence Scales and Adjustment for Household Size and Composition

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  • Paolo Figini

Abstract

Total household income inequality can be very different from inequality measured at the income per-capita level but only in recent years has the pattern of this divergence been investigated. In this paper, results from Coulter et al. (1992) using a one-parameter equivalence scale are updated using data for Ireland, Italy, the UK and the US. A class of two-parameter equivalence scales, representing relative weights for adults and children, is then analysed. Results are shown to depend on the distribution of household size and composition among deciles of the population. Inequality generally increases with children's weight and decreases with adults' weight. OECD and other two-parameter equivalence scales empirically used show similar results to the one-parameter equivalence scale with elasticity around 0.5.

Suggested Citation

  • Paolo Figini, 1998. "Inequality Measures, Equivalence Scales and Adjustment for Household Size and Composition," Economics Technical Papers 988, Trinity College Dublin, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:tcd:tcduet:988
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Champernowne, D G, 1974. "A Comparison of Measures of Inequality of Income Distribution," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 84(336), pages 787-816, December.
    2. Paolo Figini, 1998. "Measuring Inequality: On the Correlation of Indices," Economics Technical Papers 987, Trinity College Dublin, Department of Economics.
    3. Jenkins, Stephen P & Cowell, Frank A, 1994. "Parametric Equivalence Scales and Scale Relativities," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(425), pages 891-900, July.
    4. Coulter, Fiona A E & Cowell, Frank A & Jenkins, Stephen P, 1992. "Equivalence Scale Relativities and the Extent of Inequality and Poverty," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 102(414), pages 1067-1082, September.
    5. 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 115-142, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Dong, Hengjin & Kouyate, Bocar & Cairns, John & Sauerborn, Rainer, 2005. "Inequality in willingness-to-pay for community-based health insurance," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 149-156, May.
    2. Udo Ebert & Patrick Moyes, 2009. "Household decisions and equivalence scales," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 22(4), pages 1039-1062, October.
    3. Chritoph Birkel, 2005. "Einkommensungleichheit und Umverteilung in Westdeutschland, Großbritannien und Schweden, 1950-2000," LIS Working papers 425, LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg.
    4. Patrick Moyes & Alain Trannoy, 1999. "Le quotient familial : une structure fiscale cohérente avec le critère de Lorenz relatif," Économie et Prévision, Programme National Persée, vol. 138(2), pages 111-124.
    5. Lars Osberg, 2003. "Long Run Trends in Income Inequality in the United States, UK, Sweden, Germany and Canada: A Birth Cohort View," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 29(1), pages 121-141, Winter.
    6. Caminada, Koen & Goudswaard, Kees, 1999. "Social policy and income distribution: An empirical analysis for the Netherlands," MPRA Paper 20183, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Koen Caminada & Kees Goudswaard, 2001. "International Trends in Income Inequality and Social Policy," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 8(4), pages 395-415, August.
    8. Wang, Chen & Caminada, Koen, 2011. "Disentangling income inequality and the redistributive effect of social transfers and taxes in 36 LIS countries," MPRA Paper 32821, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. Christopher R. Bollinger & Cheti Nicoletti & Stephen Pudney, 2012. "Two can live as cheaply as one... But three's a crowd," Discussion Papers 12/23, Department of Economics, University of York.
    10. Jesper Drescher, 1999. "Income Inequality Decomposition by Income Source and by Population Subgroups: A Theoretical Overview and the Empirical Case of Denmark," LIS Working papers 209, LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg.
    11. Lars Osberg & Kuan Xu, 1999. "Poverty Intensity: How Well Do Canadian Provinces Compare?," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 25(2), pages 179-195, June.
    12. Gnawali, Devendra Prasad & Pokhrel, Subhash & Sié, Ali & Sanon, Mamadou & De Allegri, Manuela & Souares, Aurélia & Dong, Hengjin & Sauerborn, Rainer, 2009. "The effect of community-based health insurance on the utilization of modern health care services: Evidence from Burkina Faso," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 90(2-3), pages 214-222, May.
    13. Udo Ebert & Patrick Moyes, 2000. "Adjusting Incomes for Needs: Can One Avoid Equivalence Scales?," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 0917, Econometric Society.
    14. Zhang, Yin & Wan, Guanghua, 2006. "Poverty Reduction in China: Trends and Causes," WIDER Working Paper Series 152, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    15. Osberg, Lars, 2002. "Trends in poverty: the UK in international perspective: how rates mislead and intensity matters," ISER Working Paper Series 2002-10, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
    16. Clemens Tesch-Römer & Andreas Motel-Klingebiel & Martin Tomasik, 2008. "Gender Differences in Subjective Well-Being: Comparing Societies with Respect to Gender Equality," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 85(2), pages 329-349, January.
    17. Graham, Carol & Eggers, Andrew & Sukhtankar, Sandip, 2004. "Does happiness pay?: An exploration based on panel data from Russia," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 55(3), pages 319-342, November.
    18. Figini, P, 1999. "Inequality and Growth Revisited," Trinity Economics Papers 992, Trinity College Dublin, Department of Economics.
    19. Christoph Birkel, 2006. "Einkommensungleichheit und Umverteilung in Westdeutschland, Großbritannien und Schweden 1950 bis 2000," Vierteljahrshefte zur Wirtschaftsforschung / Quarterly Journal of Economic Research, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 75(1), pages 174-194.
    20. Udo Ebert & Patrick Moyes, 2017. "Inequality and isoelastic equivalence scales: restrictions and implications," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 48(2), pages 295-326, February.

    More about this item

    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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