# what are gini coefficients?

J. Barkley Rosser, Jr. rosserjb at jmu.edu
Fri Aug 18 11:29:16 PDT 2000

CB,

No, no, no! There are very big differences in the degree of income inequality around the world. Brazil (and South Africa, not on Branko's list) really are much more unequal than Slovakia. Russia (and Georgia) have become much more unequal than they used to be. Everybody knows this and these facts do show up in the data, despite some disagreements about details.

Again, the Pareto curve discussion says that there is a similarity to the shape or pattern of inequality everywhere. But, that similarity can fit very different degrees of inequality. Is the second richest person 99% as rich as the first or only 10% as rich? Either of those are consistent with a Pareto type distribution, but each implies a very different pattern of inequality. Barkley Rosser -----Original Message----- From: Charles Brown <CharlesB at CNCL.ci.detroit.mi.us> To: lbo-talk at lists.panix.com <lbo-talk at lists.panix.com> Date: Friday, August 18, 2000 11:00 AM Subject: Re: what are gini coefficients?

>The thing that struck me about the Gini curves on the LBO website example
is that they were so close together. Then there is this discussion around here that Pareto or somebody and others have demonstrated that the income distribution/dispersion/inequality is and has been very close over a the long run ( or is that a joke ?).
>
>It would seem like the interesting thing about income distribution is that
it doesn't change, suggesting none other than a scientific law at work.
>
>CB
>>>> dhenwood at panix.com 08/17/00 07:15PM >>>
>Jim heartfield wrote:
>
>>At the risk of boring those in the know, I would love to know what the
>>methodology of the gini coefficient is? Gini was the name of a soft
>>drink here, that never quite took off (somewhere between sprite and
>>fizzy water). I've always assumed that it was some measure of relative
>>poverty (as opposed to absolute) but that's as much as I know.
>
><http://www.panix.com/~dhenwood/Gini_supplement.html>.
>
>>Most of all I've noticed that conventional economics is very much at
>>home with gini coefficients,
>
>It's not something that troubles most economists, only income & poverty
types.
>
>> in a way that it never was about old-
>>fashioned inequality - something about mathematics makes it all sound so
>>technical and impersonal.
>
>If you want that, you refer to "income dispersion" rather than
"inequality."
>
>> I guess that this is a measure of
>>distributional inequality rather than one of social power.
>
>Distributional inequality isn't unrelated to social power, is it?
>
>Doug
>
>