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Top incomes are often related to Pareto distribution. To date, economists have mostly used Pareto Type I distribution to model the upper tail of income and wealth distribution. It is a parametric distribution, with interesting properties, that can be easily linked to economic theory. In this paper, we first show that modeling top incomes with Pareto Type I distribution can lead to biased estimation of inequality, even with millions of observations. Then, we show that the Generalized Pareto distribution and, even more, the Extended Pareto distribution, are much less sensitive to the choice of the threshold. Thus, they can provide more reliable results. We discuss different types of bias that could be encountered in empirical studies and, we provide some guidance for practice. To illustrate, two applications are investigated, on the distribution of income in South Africa in 2012 and on the distribution of wealth in the United States in 2013.
The Pareto model is very popular in risk management, since simple analytical formulas can be derived for financial downside risk measures (value-at-risk, expected shortfall) or reinsurance premiums and related quantities (large claim index, return period). Nevertheless, in practice, distributions are (strictly) Pareto only in the tails, above (possible very) large threshold. Therefore, it could be interesting to take into account second-order behavior to provide a better fit. In this article, we present how to go from a strict Pareto model to Pareto-type distributions. We discuss inference, derive formulas for various measures and indices, and finally provide applications on insurance losses and financial risks.
In the case of ordered categorical data, the concepts of minimum and maximum inequality are not straightforward. In this chapter, the authors consider the Cowell and Flachaire (2017) indices of inequality. The authors show that the minimum and maximum inequality depend on preliminary choices made before using these indices, on status and the sensitivity parameter. Specifically, maximum inequality can be given by the distribution which is the most concentrated in the top or bottom category, or by the uniform distribution.
Asymptotic and bootstrap tests for inequality measures are known to perform poorly in finite samples when the underlying distribution is heavy-tailed. We propose Monte Carlo permutation and bootstrap methods for the problem of testing the equality of inequality measures between two samples. Results cover the Generalized Entropy class, which includes Theil’s index, the Atkinson class of indices, and the Gini index. We analyze finite-sample and asymptotic conditions for the validity of the proposed methods, and we introduce a convenient rescaling to improve finite-sample performance. Simulation results show that size correct inference can be obtained with our proposed methods despite heavy tails if the underlying distributions are sufficiently close in the upper tails. Substantial reduction in size distortion is achieved more generally. Studentized rescaled Monte Carlo permutation tests outperform the competing methods we consider in terms of power.
This is a reprint of articles from the Special Issue published online in the open access journal Econometrics
(ISSN 2225-1146) from 2017 to 2018 (available at: https://www.mdpi.com/journal/
Asymptotic and bootstrap inference methods for inequality indices are for the most part unreliable due to the complex empirical features of the underlying distributions. In this paper, we introduce a Fieller-type method for the Theil Index and assess its finite-sample properties by a Monte Carlo simulation study. The fact that almost all inequality indices can be written as a ratio of functions of moments and that a Fieller-type method does not suffer from weak identification as the denominator approaches zero, makes it an appealing alternative to the available inference methods. Our simulation results exhibit several cases where a Fieller-type method improves coverage. This occurs in particular when the Data Generating Process (DGP) follows a finite mixture of distributions, which reflects irregularities arising from low observations (close to zero) as opposed to large (right-tail) observations. Designs that forgo the interconnected effects of both boundaries provide possibly misleading finite-sample evidence. This suggests a useful prescription for simulation studies in this literature.
Our new approach to mobility measurement involves separating out the valuation of positions in terms of individual status (using income, social rank, or other criteria) from the issue of movement between positions. The quantification of movement is addressed using a general concept of distance between positions and a parsimonious set of axioms that characterize the distance concept and yield a class of aggregative indices. This class of indices induces a superclass of mobility measures over the different status concepts consistent with the same underlying data. We investigate the statistical inference of mobility indices using two well‐known status concepts, related to income mobility and rank mobility. We also show how our superclass provides a more consistent and intuitive approach to mobility, in contrast to other measures in the literature, and illustrate its performance using recent data from China.
It is well-known that, after decades of non-interest in the theme, economics has experienced a proper surge in inequality research in recent years. [...]
In this article, a misspecification test in conditional volatility and GARCH-type models is presented. We propose a Lagrange Multiplier type test based on a Taylor expansion to distinguish between (G)ARCH models and unknown GARCH-type models. This new test can be seen as a general misspecification test of a large set of GARCH-type univariate models. It focuses on the short-term component of the volatility. We investigate the size and the power of this test through Monte Carlo experiments and we compare it to two other standard Lagrange Multiplier tests, which are more restrictive. We show the usefulness of our test with an illustrative empirical example based on daily exchange rate returns.
The standard theory of inequality measurement assumes that the equalisand is a cardinal quantity, with known cardinalization. However, one often needs to make inequality comparisons where either the cardinalization is unknown or the underlying data are categorical. We propose an alternative approach to inequality analysis that is rigorous, has a natural interpretation, and embeds both the ordinal data problem and the well-known cardinal data problem. We show how the approach can be applied to the inequality of happiness and of health status.
To compare income and wealth distributions and to assess the effects of policy that affect those distributions require reliable inequality-measurement tools. However, commonly used inequality measures such as the Gini coefficient have an apparently counter-intuitive property: income growth among the rich may actually reduce measured inequality. We show that there are just two inequality measures that both avoid this anomalous behavior and satisfy the principle of transfers. We further show that the recent increases in US income inequality are understated by the conventional Gini coefficient and explain why a simple alternative inequality measure should be preferred in practice.
Household surveys do not capture incomes at the top of the distribution well. This yields biased inequality measures. We compare the performance of the reweighting and replacing methods to address top incomes underreporting in surveys using information from tax records. The biggest challenge is that the true threshold above which underreporting occurs is unknown. Relying on simulation, we construct a hypothetical true distribution and a “distorted” distribution that mimics an underreporting pattern found in a novel linked data for Uruguay. Our simulations show that if one chooses a threshold that is not close to the true one, corrected inequality measures may be significantly biased. Interestingly, the bias using the replacing method is less sensitive to the choice of threshold. We approach the threshold selection challenge in practice using the Uruguayan linked data. Our findings are analogous to the simulation exercise. These results, however, should not be considered a general assessment of the two methods.
In recent years there has been a surge of interest in the subject of inequality, fuelled by new facts and new thinking. The literature on inequality has expanded rapidly as official data on income, wealth, and other personal information have become richer and more easily accessible. Ideas about the meaning of inequality have expanded to encompass new concepts and different dimensions of economic inequality. The purpose of this chapter is to give a concise overview of the issues that are involved in translating ideas about inequality into practice using various types of data.