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Inequality and Bi-Polarization in Socioeconomic Status and Health: Ordinal Approaches

Health and Inequality

ISBN: 978-1-78190-553-1, eISBN: 978-1-78190-554-8

Publication date: 30 December 2013


Traditional indices of bi-dimensional inequality and polarization were developed for cardinal variables and cannot be used to quantify dispersion in ordinal measures of socioeconomic status and health. This chapter develops two approaches to the measurement of inequality and bi-polarization using only ordinal information. An empirical illustration is given for 24 European Union countries in 2004–2006 and 2011. Results suggest that inequalities and bi-polarization in income and health are especially large in Estonia and Portugal, and that inequalities have significantly increased in recent years in Austria, Belgium, Finland, Germany, and the Netherlands, whereas bi-polarization significantly decreased in France, Portugal, and the United Kingdom.




The authors would like to thank Owen O’Donnell for his helpful comments on this chapter.


Apouey, B. and Silber, J. (2013), "Inequality and Bi-Polarization in Socioeconomic Status and Health: Ordinal Approaches", Health and Inequality (Research on Economic Inequality, Vol. 21), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 77-109.



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