Income Inequality in Richer and OECD Countries

Andrea Brandolini and Timothy M. Smeeding

in The Oxford Handbook of Economic Inequality

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9780199606061
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Economics

Income Inequality in Richer and OECD Countries

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  • Economics
  • Labour and Demographic Economics
  • Public Economics



Many different variables can be used to evaluate the distribution of living standards in a society. These focal variables include monetary indicators, such as expenditure, income, and wealth, as well as non-monetary indicators like multidimensional measures of material standard of living, happiness and life satisfaction, functionings, and capabilities. This article takes income as the focal variable. Section 2 outlines the conceptual difference between consumption, current income, and permanent income, and then moves on to examine the nuances of the definition of income and the further methodological decisions that need to be taken to study income inequality. Section 3 deals with the empirics of income distribution in richer countries, covering both the evidence at the turn of the century and the evolution over the last thirty years of the inequality of market and disposable incomes, and the role of cash and non-cash redistribution. Section 4 concludes with suggestions for future research.

Keywords: living standards; focal variables; monetary indicators; consumption; current income; permanent income; income distribution

Article.  11116 words. 

Subjects: Economics ; Labour and Demographic Economics ; Public Economics

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