How is inequality measured

Social inequality / measurement and indicators

Previous Chapter: 9.3 Weaknesses in the Concept of Stratification: New Theories of Social Inequality

written by Theresa Fibich and Rudolf Richter

In order to be able to map or measure social inequality, indicators of social inequality (e.g. income, participation in certain areas, health, education, etc. - depending on theoretical considerations) are used. In most cases, the degree of inequality distribution (compared to the equality distribution) is measured. Examples of typical coefficients or indices of social inequality are the GINI coefficient, the Global Gender Gap Index and the Human Development Index (HDI).


9.4.1 GINI coefficient

The 'Gini coefficient [1] ' is becoming Representation of inequality distributions used. The Gini coefficient can assume values ​​between 0 (equal distribution) and 1 (complete inequality: e.g. the entire wealth of a state belongs to a single resident). The higher the Gini coefficient, the greater the inequality.

The Gini coefficient results from the Lorenz curve ': The ratio of the area between the straight line (= uniform distribution) and the Lorenz curve to the entire triangular area (below the straight line) gives the degree of concentration, the GINI coefficient G (see World Bank: '

The following graphic shows the percentage distribution of the ' Total income and total tax in Austria from 2009 shown in the form of a Lorenz curve.

Graphic: Lorenz curve: Concentration of total income and total tax of all income earners 2009, source: Statistics Austria 2012: 24

Total income: G = 0.46

Total tax: G = 0.73

50% of all income earners pay around 18% of total income, but only around 2% of tax revenue. 80% of all income earners earn exactly half of the income and bear around a quarter of the total tax, etc.

A Europe-wide look at the distribution of income shows the following picture.

Graphic: Distribution of income (GINI) Europe 2010, source: Eurostat 2010


9.4.2 Global Gender Gap Index

The index of the Global Gender Gaps has been published annually since 2006 and is published by the World Economic Forum. The goal is that Participation of men and women in the Areas of politics, economy, education and health compare and measure the relative differences. The global gender gap can reach values ​​between 1 (= equality) and 0 (= inequality). The country's economic development deliberately does not play a role in the ranking.

The graphic shows the specific results for Austria. Austria was in 2011 in an international comparison Rank 34 (which is an improvement over 2010). This position is mainly attributed to the low participation of women in business and politics. Yemen brings up the rear with 135th place, France ranks 48th and the USA ranks 17th Global Gender Gap Report [1] is available free of charge on the Internet.

Graphic: Country Score Austria 2011 compared to the mean value of all countries in the Global Gender Gap Index, source: Global Gender Gap Report 2011


9.4.3 Human Development Index (HDI)

Graphic: Human Development Index (HDI) 2011, source: Created using the World Map of the United Nations Development Program [2]

The Human Development Index (HDI) measures human development worldwide and has been published annually since 1990 by the United Nations as part of the United Nations Development Programs [1] released.

Next to the gross domestic product will also be the Life expectancy (as an indicator of health, nutrition and hygiene) and that Educational level measured by the literacy rate and the school enrollment rate of the population.

In 2011, 187 countries were covered with the HDI. Austria is in 19th place (HDI = 0.885) and is considered a very developed country. Niger (HDI = 0.295) and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (HDI = 0.286) bring up the rear.



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