Why Measure Inequality?

16 Pages Posted: 3 Dec 2002  

Louis Kaplow

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

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: October 2002

Abstract

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.

JEL Classification: D31, D63, H23, I32

Suggested Citation

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

Louis Kaplow (Contact Author)

Harvard Law School ( email )

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