A quantitative method for benchmarking fair income distribution

by   Thitithep Sitthiyot, et al.

Concern about income inequality has become prominent in public discourse around the world. However, studies in behavioral economics and psychology have consistently shown that people prefer not equal but fair income distributions. Thus, finding a benchmark that could be used to measure fair income distribution across countries is a theoretical and practical challenge. Here a method for benchmarking fair income distribution is introduced. The benchmark is constructed based on the concepts of procedural justice, distributive justice, and authority's power in professional sports where it is widely agreed as an international norm that the allocations of athlete's salary are outcomes of fair rules, individual and/or team performance, and luck in line with no-envy principle of fair allocation. Using the World Bank data, this study demonstrates how the benchmark could be used to quantitatively gauge whether, for a given value of the Gini index, the income shares by quintile of a country are the fair shares or not, and if not, what fair income shares by quintile of that country should be. Knowing this could be useful for those involved in setting targets for the Gini index and the fair income shares that are appropriate for the context of each country before formulating policies toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goal 10 and other SDGs.


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