On the measurement of socioeconomic inequality of health between countries


This paper focuses on the measurement of socioeconomic inequality of health between countries and its evolution over time, by means of population-weighted indicators. We show that rank-dependent indicators of inequality can be highly sensitive to small changes in the socioeconomic variable when estimating inequality in samples consisting of countries with large differences in population weights. Since larger countries count more than smaller countries, changes in the former tend to have bigger effects than changes in the latter. When using rank-dependent indicators, however, the sensitivity to small changes in the variable which is used for ranking can be so extreme, that the indicator may suggest trend reversals in inequality which do not really exist. An empirical study shows that this is not a freak case. The use of rank-dependent indicators may therefore produce misleading results when it comes to the measurement of population-weighted between-country inequality. We propose a simple diagnostic test to check how sensitive rank-dependent indices are to small changes in the variable used for ranking.


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Correspondence to Guido Erreygers.

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Erreygers, G., Clarke, P. & Zheng, Q. On the measurement of socioeconomic inequality of health between countries. J Econ Inequal 15, 175–193 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10888-016-9342-6

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  • Inequality measurement
  • Socioeconomic inequality of health
  • Concentration index