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The shape of income distribution and decomposition of the changes in income inequality in India: 2005-2012

Aswini Kumar Mishra (Department of Economics, Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani – Goa Campus, Zuarinagar, India)
Anil Kumar (Department of Economics, Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani – Goa Campus, Zuarinagar, India)
Abhishek Sinha (Department of Economics, Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani – Goa Campus, Zuarinagar, India)

Journal of Economic Studies

ISSN: 0144-3585

Publication date: 2 August 2019

Abstract

Purpose

Though Indian economy since 1980s has expanded very rapidly, yet the benefits of growth remain very unequally distributed. The purpose of this paper is to provide new evidence about the shape, intensity and decomposition of inequality change between 2005 and 2012. The authors find that Gini, as a measure of income inequality, has increased irrespective of geographic regions.

Design/methodology/approach

Based on a recent distribution analysis tool, “ABG,” the paper focuses on local inequality, and summarizes the shape of inequality in terms of three inequality parameters (α, β and γ) to examine how the income distributions have changed over time. Here, the central coefficient (α) measures inequality at the median level, with adjustment parameters at the top (β) and bottom (γ).

Findings

The results reveal that at the middle of distribution (α), there is almost the same inequality in both the periods, but the coefficients on the curvature parameters β and γ show that there is increasing inequality in the subsequent period. Finally, an analysis of decomposition of inequality change suggests that though income growth was progressive, however, this equalizing effect was more than offset by the disequalizing effect of income reranking.

Research limitations/implications

This paper shows how it can be possible both for “the poor” to fare badly relatively to “the rich” and for income growth to be pro-poor.

Practical implications

This paper stresses the significance of inequality reduction.

Social implications

Inequality reduction is very much imperative in ending poverty and boosting shared prosperity.

Originality/value

Perhaps, this research work is first of its kind to examine the shape and decomposition of change in income inequality in India in recent years.

Keywords

Citation

Mishra, A.K., Kumar, A. and Sinha, A. (2019), "The shape of income distribution and decomposition of the changes in income inequality in India: 2005-2012", Journal of Economic Studies, Vol. 46 No. 3, pp. 760-776. https://doi.org/10.1108/JES-09-2017-0253

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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