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Income redistribution going awry: The reversal power of the concern for relative deprivation

  • Stark, Oded
  • Sorger, Gerhard

We demonstrate that a rank-preserving transfer from a richer individual to a poorer individual can exacerbate income inequality (when inequality is measured by the Gini coefficient). This happens when individuals' preferences depend negatively not only on work time (effort) but also on low relative income. It is rigorously shown that the set of preference profiles that gives rise to this perverse effect of a transfer on inequality is a non-empty open subset of all preference profiles. A robust example illustrates this result.

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Paper provided by University of Tuebingen, Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences in its series University of Tuebingen Working Papers in Economics and Finance with number 47.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:tuewef:47
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  1. Stark, Oded & Taylor, J Edward, 1991. "Migration Incentives, Migration Types: The Role of Relative Deprivation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 101(408), pages 1163-78, September.
  2. Hey, John D & Lambert, Peter J, 1980. "Relative Deprivation and the Gini Coefficient: Comment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 95(3), pages 567-73, November.
  3. Ebert, Udo, 1987. "Size and distribution of incomes as determinants of social welfare," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 41(1), pages 23-33, February.
  4. Ebert, Udo, 1984. "Measures of distance between income distributions," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 266-274, April.
  5. Stark, Oded & Hyll, Walter, 2010. "Endogenous Selection of Comparison Groups, Human Capital Formation, and Tax Policy," MPRA Paper 28909, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  6. Bossert, Walter & D'Ambrosio, Conchita, 2006. "Reference groups and individual deprivation," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 90(3), pages 421-426, March.
  7. Erzo F. P. Luttmer, 2005. "Neighbors as Negatives: Relative Earnings and Well-Being," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 120(3), pages 963-1002, August.
  8. Sen, Amartya, 1973. "On Economic Inequality," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198281931.
  9. Hyll, Walter & Stark, Oded, 2011. "On the economic architecture of the workplace: repercussions of social comparisons amongst heterogeneous workers," University of Tuebingen Working Papers in Economics and Finance 6, University of Tuebingen, Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences.
  10. AndrewE. Clark & Claudia Senik, 2010. "Who Compares to Whom? The Anatomy of Income Comparisons in Europe," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 120(544), pages 573-594, 05.
  11. Fliessbach, Klaus & Weber, Bernd & Trautner, P. & Dohmen, Thomas J. & Sunde, Uwe & Elger, C. E. & Falk, Armin, 2007. "Social comparison affects reward-related brain activity in the human ventral striatum," Munich Reprints in Economics 20362, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  12. Bossert, Walter, 1990. "An axiomatization of the single-series Ginis," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 82-92, February.
  13. Blackorby, Charles & Donaldson, David, 1978. "Measures of relative equality and their meaning in terms of social welfare," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 59-80, June.
  14. Yitzhaki, Shlomo, 1979. "Relative Deprivation and the Gini Coefficient," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 93(2), pages 321-24, May.
  15. Stark, Oded & Fan, C. Simon, 2010. "A Theory of Migration as a Response to Occupational Stigma," Economics Series 247, Institute for Advanced Studies.
  16. Lambert, Peter J & Aronson, J Richard, 1993. "Inequality Decomposition Analysis and the Gini Coefficient Revisited," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 103(420), pages 1221-27, September.
  17. Clark, Andrew E. & Frijters, Paul & Shields, Michael A., 2007. "Relative Income, Happiness and Utility: An Explanation for the Easterlin Paradox and Other Puzzles," IZA Discussion Papers 2840, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  18. David Andolfatto, 2000. "A Theory of Inalienable Property Rights," Cahiers de recherche CREFE / CREFE Working Papers 110, CREFE, Université du Québec à Montréal.
  19. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2007. "Hypertension and Happiness across Nations," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 792, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  20. Kolm, Serge-Christophe, 1977. "Multidimensional Egalitarianisms," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 91(1), pages 1-13, February.
  21. Daniel J. ZIZZO & Andrew J. OSWALD, 2001. "Are People Willing to Pay to Reduce Others'Incomes?," Annales d'Economie et de Statistique, ENSAE, issue 63-64, pages 39-65.
  22. WEYMARK, John A., . "Generalized Gini inequality indices," CORE Discussion Papers RP -453, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  23. Shorrocks, Anthony F, 1984. "Inequality Decomposition by Population Subgroups," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(6), pages 1369-85, November.
  24. Stark, Oded & Fan, C. Simon, 2010. "Migration for degrading work as an escape from humiliation," MPRA Paper 28905, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  25. Blackorby, Charles & Donaldson, David, 1980. "A Theoretical Treatment of Indices of Absolute Inequality," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 21(1), pages 107-36, February.
  26. Foster, James E., 1983. "An axiomatic characterization of the Theil measure of income inequality," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 105-121, October.
  27. Shorrocks, A F, 1980. "The Class of Additively Decomposable Inequality Measures," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(3), pages 613-25, April.
  28. 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.
  29. Chakravarty, Satya R, 1988. "Extended Gini Indices of Inequality," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 29(1), pages 147-56, February.
  30. Foster, James E. & Shorrocks, Anthony F., 1988. "Inequality and poverty orderings," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 32(2-3), pages 654-661, March.
  31. Atkinson, Anthony B., 1970. "On the measurement of inequality," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 244-263, September.
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