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On lateral thinking


Lateral thinking led to results on the measurement of risk being applied to the problem of measuring income inequality. In this, and in other areas of economics, lateral thinking has made a significant contribution. At the same time, there are dangers. The parallel may be deceptive. The paper examines two ways in which a straightforward translation of techniques from one field to another can be misleading and one example where lateral thinking about multi-dimensional inequality has considerable promise.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Anthony B. Atkinson.

Additional information

This is a revised version of a paper presented at the Cornell/LSE Conference on “Inequality: New Directions”. I am most grateful to Frank Cowell and Ravi Kanbur for having organized the conference, and to the participants for their helpful comments on my conference presentation. Section 2 of the paper has greatly benefited from discussions with John Micklewright of the Institute of Education, London.

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Atkinson, A.B. On lateral thinking. J Econ Inequal 9, 319–328 (2011).

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  • Inequality
  • Multidimensional
  • Health inequality
  • Copula