Social Indicators Research

, 95:299 | Cite as

Health, Wealth and Wisdom: Exploring Multidimensional Inequality in a Developing Country

  • Therese NilssonEmail author


Despite a broad theoretical literature on multidimensional inequality and a widespread belief that welfare is not synonymous to income—not the least in a developing context—empirical inequality examinations rarely includes several welfare attributes. We explore three techniques on how to evaluate multidimensional inequality using Zambian household data on consumption, education, health and land. The examination indicates that level and changes in non-monetary inequality are at odds with consumption inequality. Moreover, assessment of a multidimensional index shows evidence of that dimensions of wellbeing compensate and reinforce each other with respect to inequality. However, a majority of the results using this technique are sensitive to the degree of substitution between attributes. In applying a stochastic dominance method few combinations fulfill the required dominance conditions. Accordingly, less imposed structure come at a cost. Clearly, sensitivity analyzes, explicitness and analyzes involving more than one technique are constructive in portraying multidimensional inequality.


Multidimensional inequality Inequality indices Stochastic dominance Expenditures Education Health Land holdings Zambia 



The author wish to thank Peter Lambert, participants at the 2nd Meeting of the Society for the Study of Economic Inequality (ECINEQ), Berlin, 2007, Carl Hampus Lyttkens, Andreas Bergh, Göte Hansson, Carl-Johan Belfrage, Nils Janlöv and seminal participants in Lund for very useful comments and suggestions. Financial support from Anna Nilssons stipendiefond and Per Westlings stipendiefond is gratefully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsLund UniversityLundSweden

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