Advertisement

The Journal of Economic Inequality

, Volume 13, Issue 4, pp 497–526 | Cite as

Appraising cross-national income inequality databases: An introduction

  • Francisco H. G. FerreiraEmail author
  • Nora Lustig
  • Daniel Teles
Article

Abstract

In response to a growing interest in comparing inequality levels and trends across countries, a number of cross-national inequality databases are now available. These databases differ considerably in purpose, coverage, data sources, inclusion and exclusion criteria, and quality of documentation. This special issue reviews and compares eight such databases. Five are microdata-based: CEPALSTAT, Income Distribution Database (IDD), LIS, PovcalNet, and Socio-Economic Database for Latin America and the Caribbean (SEDLAC); two are based on secondary sources: “All the Ginis” (ATG) and the World Income Inequality Database (WIID); and one is generated entirely through multiple-imputation methods: the Standardized World Income Inequality Database (SWIID). Although there is much agreement across these databases, there is also a non-trivial share of country/year cells for which substantial discrepancies exist. In some cases, different databases would lead users to radically different conclusions about inequality dynamics in certain countries and periods. The methodological differences that lead to these discrepancies often appear to be driven by a fundamental trade-off between a wish for broader coverage on the one hand, and for greater comparability on the other. These differences across databases place considerable responsibility on both producers and users: on the former, to better document and explain their assumptions and procedures, and on the latter, to understand the data they are using, rather than merely taking it as true because available.

Keywords

Inequality comparisons Inequality databases International inequality 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Acemoglu, D., Naidu, S., Restrepo, P., Robinson, J.A.: Democracy, redistribution and inequality. In: Atkinson, A.B., Bourguignon, F. (eds.) Handbook of Income Distribution, vol 2B. Chapter 21, pp 1885–1966. Elsevier, North-Holland, Amsterdam (2015)Google Scholar
  2. Afkar, R., Jellema, J., Wai-Poi, M.: Fiscal policy, redistribution, and inequality in Indonesia. In: Inchauste, G., Lustig, N. (eds.) The Distributional Impact of Fiscal Policy: Experience from Developing Countries, World Bank, Washington DC (forthcoming)Google Scholar
  3. Alvaredo, F., Atkinson, A.B., Piketty, T., Saez, E.: The World Top Incomes Database. http://topincomes.g-mond.parisschoolofeconomics.eu/ (2013)
  4. Atkinson, A.B.: Inequality: What can be done? Harvard University Press, Cambridge (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Atkinson, A.B., Bourguignon, F.: Handbook of Income Distribution, vols. 2A-2B. Elsevier, Amsterdam (2014)Google Scholar
  6. Atkinson, A.B., Brandolini, A.: Promise and pitfalls in the use of “secondary” data-sets: income inequality in OECD Countries As a Case Study. J. Econ. Lit. 39(3), 771–799 (2001)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Atkinson, A.B., Marlier, E., Montaigne, F., Reinstadler, A.: Income poverty and income inequality. In: Atkinson, A.B., Marlier, E. (eds.) Income and Living Conditions in Europe, pp 101–131. Eurostat, Publications Office of the EU, Luxembourg (2010)Google Scholar
  8. Atkinson, A.B., Piketty, T.: Top Incomes: A Global Perspective. Oxford University Press, Oxford (2010)Google Scholar
  9. Badgaiyan, N., Pirttila, J., Tarp, F.: Response to Professor Stephen Jenkins’ comments on the World Income Inequality Database (WIID). J. Econ. Inequal., this issue (2015)Google Scholar
  10. Beneke, M., Lustig, N., Oliva, J.A.: El impacto de los impuestos y el gasto social en la desigualdady la pobreza en El Salvador, CEQ Working Paper 26, Tulane University (2015)Google Scholar
  11. Bourguignon, F.: Appraising income inequality databases in Latin America. J. Econ. Inequal., this issue (2015)Google Scholar
  12. Bourguignon, F.: The Globalization of Inequality. Princeton University Press, Princeton (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Bucheli, M., Lustig, N., Rossi, M., Amábile, F.: Social spending, taxes and income redistribution in Uruguay. In: Lustig, N., Pessino, C., Scott, J. (eds.) The Redistributive Impact of Taxes and Social Spending in Latin America. Special Issue. Public Finance Review 42(3), 413–33 (2014)Google Scholar
  14. Cabrera, M., Lustig, N., Morán, H.E.: Fiscal Policy, Inequality, and the Ethnic Divide in Guatemala. World Development 76(C), 263–279 (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. CEPALSTAT: Estimation of Household Income. http://websie.eclac.cl/sisgen/SisGen_Badeinso_calculo_ingresos.asp?idioma=i (2013b)
  16. Deininger, K., Squire, L.: A new data set measuring income inequality. World Bank Econ. Rev. 10(3), 565–591 (1996)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Expert Group on Household Income Statistics [The Canberra Group]: Final Report and Recommendations. Canberra: Statistics Canada (2001)Google Scholar
  18. Gasparini, L., Tornarolli, L.: A review of the OECD income distribution database. Journal of Economic Inequality, this issue (2015)Google Scholar
  19. Gibson, J., Beegle, K., De Weerdt, J., Friedman, J.: What does variation in survey design reveal about the nature of measurement errors in household consumption? Oxf. Bull. Econ. Stat. 77(3), 466–474 (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. GINI Growing Inequalities’ Impacts: http://gini-research.org/articles/home. (2015)
  21. Gornick, J.C., Jantti, M., Munzi, T., Kruten, T.: Response to “the luxembourg income study” review by martin ravallion. Journal of Economic Inequality, this issue (2015)Google Scholar
  22. Higgins, S., Pereira, C.: The Effects of Brazil’s Taxation and Social Spending on the Distribution of Household Income. In: Lustig, N., Pessino, C., Scott, J. (eds.) The Redistributive Impact of Taxes and Social Spending in Latin America. Special Issue. Public Finance Review 42(3), 346–67 (2014)Google Scholar
  23. Inchauste, G., Lustig, N., Maboshe, M., Purfield, C., Woolard, I.: The Distributional Impact of Fiscal Policy in South Africa, Policy Research Working Paper 7194, World Bank, Washington, DC (2015)Google Scholar
  24. International Monetary Fund: Fiscal monitor taking stock: A progress report on fiscal adjustment. Database (2014)Google Scholar
  25. Jaramillo, M.: The Incidence of Social Spending and Taxes in Peru. In: Lustig, N., Pessino, C., Scott, J. (eds.) The Redistributive Impact of Taxes and Social Spending in Latin America. Special Issue. Public Finance Review, 42(3), 291–412 (2014)Google Scholar
  26. Jenkins, S.P.: World income inequality databases an assessment of WIID and SWIID, Journal of Economic Inequality, this issue (2015)Google Scholar
  27. Jenkins, S.P., Van Kerm, P.: The measurement of economic inequality. In: Salverda, W., Nolan, B., Smeeding, T. (eds.) Oxford Handbook of Economic Inequality. Oxford University Press, Oxford (2009)Google Scholar
  28. Lahoti, R., Jayadev, A., Reddy, S.G.: The global consumption and income project (GCIP): An introduction and preliminary findings. Available at SSRN 2480636 (2014)Google Scholar
  29. Lustig, N., Higgins, S.: Commitment to Equity Assessment (CEQ): Estimating the Incidence of Social Spending, Subsidies and Taxes. Handbook. CEQ Working Paper No. 1, Center for Inter-American Policy and Research and Department of Economics, Tulane University and Inter-American Dialogue (2013)Google Scholar
  30. Milanovic, B.: Description of All the Ginis Dataset. http://worldbank.org/INTPOVRES/Resources/477227-1173108574667/Description_of_the_gini_dataset_2013.pdf The World Bank (2013)
  31. OECD: Income distribution database: Gini, poverty, income, Methods and Concepts. OECD. http://www.oecd.org/social/income-distribution-database.htm (2014a)
  32. OECD: Metadata on OECD Income Distribution Database (IDD). http://www.oecd.org/social/soc/_README_IDD_Surveys&;Years.pdf (2014b)
  33. OECD: OECD framework for statistics on the distribution of household income, consumption and wealth. OECD Publishing, Paris (2013a)Google Scholar
  34. OECD: OECD.Stat web browser user guide. http://stats.oecd.org/ModalHelp/OECD/WBOS%20User%20Guide%20(EN).pdf (2013b)
  35. OECD: Quality review of the OECD database on household incomes and poverty and the OECD earnings database Part 1. http://www.oecd.org/els/soc/OECDIncomeDistributionQualityReview_PartI.pdf (2012a)
  36. OECD: Quality review of the OECD database on household incomes and poverty and the OECD earnings database Part 2. http://www.oecd.org/els/soc/OECDIncomeDistributionQualityReview_PartII.pdf (2012b)
  37. Ostry, J.D., Berg, A., Tsangarides, C.G.: Redistribution, inequality, and growth IMF Staff Discussion Note SDN1402. International Monetary Fund, Washington, DC (2014)Google Scholar
  38. Paz Arauco, V., Molina, G. G., Yáñez Aguilar, E., Pozo, W.J.: Explaining Low Redistributive Impact in Bolivia. In: Lustig, N., Pessino, C., Scott, J. (eds.) The Redistributive Impact of Taxes and Social Spending in Latin America. Special Issue. Public Finance Review, 42(3), 326–345 (2014)Google Scholar
  39. Piketty, T.: Capital in the 21st century. Harvard University Press (2014)Google Scholar
  40. Ravallion, M.: The luxembourg income study. Journal of Economic Inequality, this issue (2015)Google Scholar
  41. Sauma, P., Trejos, J. D.: Gasto Público Social, Impuestos, Redistribución del Ingreso y Pobreza en Costa Rica, CEQ Working Paper 18, Tulane University (2014)Google Scholar
  42. Scott, J.: Redistributive Impact and Efficiency of Mexico’s Fiscal System. In: Lustig, N., Pessino, C., Scott, J. (eds.) The Redistributive Impact of Taxes and Social Spending in Latin America. Special Issue. Public Finance Review, 42(3), 368–390 (2014)Google Scholar
  43. Smeeding, T., Latner, J.: PovcalNet, WDI and ‘All the Ginis’: A critical review. Journal of Economic Inequality, this issue (2015)Google Scholar
  44. Solt, F.: On the assessment and use of cross-national income inequality datasets. Journal of Economic Inequality, this issue (2015)Google Scholar
  45. Solt, F.: The standardized world income inequality database. Work. Paper SWIID Version 5.0. http://myweb.uiowa.edu/fsolt/swiid/swiid.html (2014)
  46. Solt, F.: Standardizing the world income inequality database. Soc. Sci. Q. 90(2), 231–242 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Socio-Economic Database for Latin America and the Caribbean (CEDLAS and The World Bank): Methodology- Documents. http://sedlac.econo.unlp.edu.ar/eng/methodology.php (2013a)
  48. Socio-Economic Database for Latin America and the Caribbean (CEDLAS and The World Bank): SEDLAC- Institutional http://sedlac.econo.unlp.edu.ar/eng/institutional.php (2013b)
  49. Socio-Economic Database for Latin America and the Caribbean (CEDLAS and The World Bank): STATS. http://sedlac.econo.unlp.edu.ar/eng/statistics-detalle.php?idE=35 (2015)
  50. United Nations: Provisional guidelines on statistics of the distribution of income, consumption and accumulation of households. studies in methods M 61. New York: Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Statistical Office (1977)Google Scholar
  51. United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Canberra group handbook on household income statistics, 2nd, Geneva (2011)Google Scholar
  52. Wittenberg, M.: Problems with SWIID: the case of South Africa. Journal of Economic Inequality, this issue (2015)Google Scholar
  53. World Bank. Indicators. http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/all (2013b)
  54. World Bank: PovcalNet: An online poverty analysis tool. http://iresearch.worldbank.org/PovcalNet/index.htm?0,0 (2014)
  55. World Income Inequality Database: Version 3.0B. UNU-WIDER. http://www.wider.unu.edu/research/WIID3-0B/en_GB/database/ (2014)
  56. Younger, S.D., Khachatryan, A.: Fiscal Incidence in Armenia, Background Paper for World Bank Armenia Public Expenditure Review. http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/2014/05/19884965/armenia-public-expenditure-review-expanding-fiscal-envelope (2014)

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Francisco H. G. Ferreira
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Nora Lustig
    • 3
    • 4
  • Daniel Teles
    • 4
  1. 1.World BankWashington, DCUSA
  2. 2.Non-Resident Research FellowBonnGermany
  3. 3.Nonresident Fellow, Center for Global Development and the Inter-American DialogueWashingtonUSA
  4. 4.Tulane UniversityNew OrleansUSA

Personalised recommendations