The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Lorenz Curve

  • Nanak Kakwani
Reference work entry


The Lorenz curve is the most widely used technique to represent and analyse the size distribution of income and wealth. The curve plots cumulative proportion of income units and the cumulative proportion of income received when income units are arranged in ascending order of their income. Max Otto Lorenz, a statistician (born 19 September 1876 in Burlington, USA; retired 1944), proposed this curve in 1905 in order to compare and analyse inequalities of wealth in a country during different epochs, or in different countries during the same epoch – and since then, the curve has been widely used as a convenient graphical device to summarize the information collected about the distributions of income and wealth.

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nanak Kakwani
    • 1
  1. 1.