NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

An Index of Inequality: With Applications to Horizontal Equity and Social Mobility

Mervyn A. King

NBER Working Paper No. 468 (Also Reprint No. r0356)
Issued in April 1980
NBER Program(s):   PE

An index of Inequality is constructed which decomposes into two components, corresponding to vertical and "horizontal" equity respectively. Horizontal equity Is defined in terms of changes in the ordering of a distribution. The proposed index is a function to two inequality aversion parameters. One empirical application is for comparison of a pre-tax distribution with a post-tax distribution, and an example of this is given for the distribution of incomes in the UK in 1977. There is a trade-off between "horizontal"and vertical equity, and for particular combinations of the inequality aversion parameters the original distribution will be preferred to the final distribution. The paper concludes with an application of the proposed index to a model of optimal taxation.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w0468

Published: King, Mervyn A. "An Index of Inequality: With Application Horizontal Equityand Social Mobility." Econometrica, Vo. 51, No. 1, (1982), pp. 99-115.

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