, Volume 39, Issue 2, pp 187-202

Measurement of socio-economic inequality using the Life-Quality Index

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As income inequality presents a narrow view of overall inequality prevailing in a society, the paper focuses on its much broader definition, referred to as socio-economic inequality, which considers the disparities in income as well as in mortality, and standard of living.

The paper presents a new method for measuring the socio-economic inequality using a composite social indicator, Life-Quality Index, derived from two principal indicators of development, namely, the Real Gross Domestic Product per person and the life expectancy at birth. Income inequality and the associated life expectancy variations are integrated into a quality adjusted income (QAI), to account for the observed differentials in life-quality of various quintiles of the population. The Gini coefficient of the distribution of QAI is introduced as a measure of socio-econmic inequality.

The proposed approach is illustrated using data on life expectancy of five income quintiles in urban Canada. It is found that the magnitude of inequality in Canada is higher than that reflected by the traditional measure, the Gini coefficient of income.