Laurence Roope, 18 March 2021

Nearly all income inequality measures are associated with a benchmark income or position, above which income gains increase inequality, and below which income gains decrease inequality. Looking at ten contrasting countries, this column finds that the benchmark incomes associated with the Gini coefficient ranged from the 62nd percentile to the 85th percentile. Knowledge of benchmark incomes could be used to predict the impact on inequality of subsidies to incomes in particular parts of the distribution, or to identify the richest person for whom it might be deemed fair to subsidise income financed by taxation and the poorest person for whom it is just and fair not to subsidise income.

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