Poverty and income inequality

[field_auth], 22 August 2016

One-dimensional indicators such as GNI per capita are known to be flawed measures of wellbeing. The Human Development Index (HDI) introduced dimensions of health and education alongside income. This column argues that an HDI adjusted for inequality and hours worked gives deeper insight into a country's economic standing. Using this composite measure, the US falls from first to seventh among G8 countries.

[field_auth], 11 August 2016

Household income surveys underestimate income inequality because they fail to capture top incomes. A popular solution is to combine the household survey with data from income tax records, though for countries like Egypt these records are not available, leading to an underestimate of inequality. This column argues that data on house prices can instead be used to estimate the top tail of the income distribution. Using this method the Gini index for urban Egypt increases from a survey-based figure of 0.36, which suggests that it is one of the world’s most equal countries, to 0.47.

[field_auth], 26 July 2016

Positive assortative matching between college graduates has been well documented in marriage markets. Using European survey data, this column explores whether graduates form couples within their field of study. A third of married or cohabiting graduate couples both studied within the same field. These results are driven in part by assortative matching, and there are notable differences across fields of study as well as across countries.

[field_auth], 18 July 2016

Income inequality has risen throughout the advanced world. Various explanations have been suggested for this, but these tend to focus on who you are. This column shifts the focus to where you work. Data from the US reveal that over the period 1992-2007, two-thirds of the rise in earnings dispersion was due to increased variation across establishments. Moreover, almost 80% of the increase in earnings dispersion among workers who remained at the same establishment from year to year was due to a widening of wages across establishments rather than within establishments.

[field_auth], 14 July 2016

It is typically argued that the rising popularity of Islamist parties in parts of the Arab world reflects votes from the poor and disenfranchised. This column challenges this perspective, arguing that Islamist parties gain political support from the middle classes, due in large part to neoliberal economic policies. Using survey and electoral data from Tunisia, it shows that belonging to the middle class and living in a rich district together affect the decision to vote for the religious party more than actually being religious. These findings suggest that the same framework used to analyse political competition in the West can be fruitfully applied to the Muslim world. 

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