Thinking about Inequality
What is inequality? In the late 1990s there was
an explosion of interest in the subject that yielded a substantial body of formal tools and results for income-distribution
analysis. Nearly all of this is founded on a small set of core assumptions - such as the Principle of Transfers, scale independence,
the population principle - that are used to give meaning to specific concepts of inequality measurement, inequality ranking
and, indeed, to inequality itself. But does the standard axiomatic structure coincide with public perceptions of inequality?
Or is the economist's concept of inequality a thing apart, perpetuated through serial brainwashing in the way the subject
is studied and taught? In this 1999 book, Amiel and Cowell examine the evidence from a large international questionnaire experiment
using student respondents. Along with basic 'cake-sharing' issues, related questions involving social-welfare rankings, the
relationship between inequality and overall income growth and the meaning of poverty comparisons are considered.
1. Introduction; 2. What is inequality? The economists' view; 3. An investigative strategy; 4. What is inequality? The students'
view; 5. Income and welfare; 6. Income change; 7. Poverty; 8. A Cross-cultural perspective; 9. Thinking agian about inequality;
A. Inequality analysis: a summary of results; B. The questionnaires.
A non-technical analysis of inequality and income
distribution, first published in 1999.