On Analysing the World Distribution of Income
52 Pages Posted: 13 Mar 2009
Date Written: January 16, 2009
This paper argues that consideration of world inequality should cause us to re-examine the key concepts underlying the welfare approach to the measurement of income inequality and the inter-relation between the measurement of inequality and the measurement of poverty. There are three reasons why we feel that a re-examination is necessary: (i) the extent of global income differences means that we cannot simply carry over the methods used at a national level; we need a more flexible measure; (ii) we have to reconcile measures of world inequality and world poverty; and (iii) we need to explore more fully the different ways in which measures may be relative or absolute. This leads us to propose a new measure, which (a) combines poverty and inequality, including provision for those who are concerned only with poverty, (b) incorporates different approaches to the measurement of inequality; and (c) allows the cost of inequality to be expressed in different ways. Applied to the world distribution for the period 1820-1992, the new measure provides different perspectives on the evolution of global inequality.
Keywords: global income inequality, absolute vs. relative inequality, poverty, world citizens
JEL Classification: D31, C80
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation