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On the Unequal Inequality of Poor Communities

Title: On the Unequal Inequality of Poor Communities
Authors:
[alphabetically]
Chris Elbers, Peter Lanjouw, Johan Mistiaen, Berk Ozler and Ken Simler
Pub. Date: 2004
Full Text: PDF

Communities differ in important ways in their needs, capacities, and circumstances.  Because central governments are not able to discern these differences fully, they seek to achieve their policy objectives by relying on decentralized mechanisms that use local information.  Household and individual characteristics within communities can also vary substantially.  A growing body of theoretical literature suggests that inequality within communities can influence policy outcomes in ways that are either harmful or helpful, depending on the circumstances.  Until recently, empirical investigations into the impact of inequality have been held back by a lack of systematic evidence on community-level inequality.  This study uses household survey and population census data to estimate per capita consumption inequality within communities in three developing economies.  It finds that communities vary markedly in their degree of inequality.  It also shows that there should be no presumption that inequality is less severe in poor communities.  The kind of community-level inequality estimates generated here can be used in designing and evaluating decentralized antipoverty programs.

Reference:
Elbers, Chris, Peter Lanjouw, Johan Mistiaen, Berk Ozler, and Ken Simler (2004). "On the Unequal Inequality of Poor Communities." The World Bank Economic Review, Vol. 18, No. 3. The World Bank, Washington, D.C.




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