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Why Measure Inequality?

Louis Kaplow

Harvard Law School; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

October 2002

Harvard Law and Economics Discussion Paper No. 386

A large body of literature is devoted to the measurement of income inequality, yet little attention is given to the question, Why measure inequality? However, the reasons for measurement bear importantly on whether and how measurement should be done. Upon examination, normative measures are found to be of questionable value. Descriptive measures, by contrast, may be useful, but the appropriate measure depends on the field of application rather than on general, a priori principles of the sort that are emphasized in the existing measurement literature. Measures of poverty are also considered, and similar conclusions are reached.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 16

JEL Classification: D31, D63, H23, I32

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Date posted: December 3, 2002  

Suggested Citation

Kaplow, Louis, Why Measure Inequality? (October 2002). Harvard Law and Economics Discussion Paper No. 386. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=357120 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.357120

Contact Information

Louis Kaplow (Contact Author)
Harvard Law School ( email )
1575 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-495-4101 (Phone)
617-496-4880 (Fax)
HOME PAGE: http://www.law.harvard.edu/faculty/directory/facdir.php?id=32&show=bibliography
National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
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