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Constructing indices of multivariate polarization


Multivariate indices of polarization are constructed to measure effects of non-income attributes like wealth and education. Polarization is considered as the presence of groups which are internally homogeneous, externally heterogeneous, and of similar size. We propose a class of polarization indices which is built from measures of relative groups size and from decomposable indices of socio-economic inequality. For the latter, we employ the special inequality indices of Maasoumi (Econometrica 54:991–997, 1986), Tsui (J Econ Theory 67:251–265, 1995; Soc Choice Welf 16:145–157, 1999) and Koshevoy and Mosler (J Multivar Anal 60:252–276, 1997). Then, postulates for multidimensional polarization measurement are stated and discussed. The approach is illustrated by an empirical application to the population of the East and West Germany with polarization defined on income and education.

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Correspondence to Chiara Gigliarano.

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Gigliarano, C., Mosler, K. Constructing indices of multivariate polarization. J Econ Inequal 7, 435 (2009).

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  • Polarization index
  • Decomposable inequality indices
  • Multidimensional inequality
  • Multivariate social evaluation

JEL Classifications

  • C43
  • D63