The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Inequality (International Evidence)

  • Andrea Brandolini
  • Timothy M. Smeeding
Reference work entry


The methodological assumptions underlying international comparisons of levels and trends in inequality are discussed, starting with the choice of the evaluative space. Empirical evidence shows that at the end of the 1990s, the United States had the highest level of disposable income inequality among high-income economies, while northern and central European countries had the lowest levels. Only in Russia and Mexico, two middle-income economies, was disposable income more unequally distributed. No common trend in inequality is observed since the 1970s across rich nations. Public redistribution through taxes and benefits influence both levels and changes in inequality.


Atkinson index Capability approach Consumer price index Disposable income Expenditure Gini index Human capital Income Income inequality Inequality (measurement) Inequality, international evidence of Kuznets, S. Lorenz curve Luxembourg Income Study Market income Pareto’s law Purchasing power parity Redistribution of income Relative inequality Standard of living Theil index 

JEL Classifications

D31 H2 I3 D63 E25 D3 
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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrea Brandolini
    • 1
  • Timothy M. Smeeding
    • 1
  1. 1.