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Appraising cross-national income inequality databases : an introduction

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  • Ferreira,Francisco H. G.
  • Lustig,Nora-451471
  • Teles,Daniel Chaim

Abstract

In response to a growing interest in comparing inequality levels and trends across countries, several cross-national inequality databases are now available. These databases differ considerably in purpose, coverage, data sources, inclusion and exclusion criteria, and quality of documentation. A special issue of the Journal of Economic Inequality, which this paper introduces, is devoted to an assessment of the merits and shortcomings of eight such databases. Five of these sets are microdata-based: CEPALSTAT, Income Distribution Database, Luxembourg Income Study, PovcalNet, and Socio-Economic Database for Latin America and the Caribbean. Two are based on secondary sources: All the Ginis and the World Income Inequality Database; and one is generated entirely through multiple-imputation methods: the Standardized World Income Inequality Database. Although there is much agreement across these databases, there is also a nontrivial share of country/year cells for which substantial discrepancies exist. In some cases, different databases would lead users to radically different conclusions about inequality dynamics in certain countries and periods. The methodological differences that lead to these discrepancies often appear to be driven by a fundamental trade-off between a wish for broader coverage on the one hand, and for greater comparability on the other hand. These differences across databases place considerable responsibility on both producers and users: on the former, to better document and explain their assumptions and procedures, and on the latter, to understand the data they are using, rather than merely taking them as true because available.

Suggested Citation

  • Ferreira,Francisco H. G. & Lustig,Nora-451471 & Teles,Daniel Chaim, 2015. "Appraising cross-national income inequality databases : an introduction," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7489, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:7489
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    1. repec:ces:ifodic:v:14:y:2016:i:4:p:19267790 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Florian Dorn & Clemens Fuest & Niklas Potrafke, 2017. "Globalisation and Income Inequality Revisited," European Economy - Discussion Papers 2015 - 056, Directorate General Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN), European Commission.
    3. Nora Lustig, 2018. "Measuring the Distribution of Household Income, Consumption and Wealth: State of Play and Measurement Challenges," Working Papers 1801, Tulane University, Department of Economics.
    4. Tim Krieger & Daniel Meierrieks, 2016. "Does Income Inequality Lead to Terrorism?," CESifo Working Paper Series 5821, CESifo Group Munich.
    5. Krieger, Tim & Meierrieks, Daniel, 2016. "Political capitalism: The interaction between income inequality, economic freedom and democracy," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 115-132.
    6. Brian A'Hearn & Nicola Amendola & Giovanni Vecchi, 2016. "On Historical Household Budgets," Rivista di storia economica, Società editrice il Mulino, issue 2, pages 137-176.
    7. Javier Martín-Román & Luis Ayala & Juan Vicente, 2017. "Regional inequality in decentralized countries: a multi-country analysis using LIS," LIS Working papers 697, LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg.
    8. repec:jid:journl:y:2018:v:26:i:1:p:1-48 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Brian Nolan & Max Roser & Stefan Thewissen, 2016. "GDP Per Capita Versus Median Household Income: What Gives Rise to Divergence Over Time?," LIS Working papers 672, LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg.
    10. Florian Dorn, 2016. "On Data and Trends in Income Inequality around the World," ifo DICE Report, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 14(4), pages 54-64, December.
    11. Markus Jäntti & Jukka Pirttilä & Risto Rönkkö, 2016. "Redistribution around the world Causes and consequences," WIDER Working Paper Series 133, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    12. Brian A'Hearn & Nicola Amendola & Giovanni Vecchi, 2016. "On Historical Household Budgets," Rivista di storia economica, Società editrice il Mulino, issue 2, pages 137-176.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    E-Business; Services&Transfers to Poor; Inequality; Information and Communication Technologies; Poverty Impact Evaluation;

    JEL classification:

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

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