(OPE-L) Re: tendencies for equalization

From: Gerald A. Levy (Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM)
Date: Sat Oct 02 2004 - 08:52:06 EDT

> What do you think is the reason why 90-95% of the income distribution
> can be characterised by an exponential distribution, and why is the
> distribution invariant over decades?
> Do you think that a unimodal income distribution is an empirical
> indication of a tendency to equalisation?


To begin with, in what nations?  Over what time periods?  What
are the variations rather than just the trend?  For which income

_If_ there is unimodal distribution,  then can that be seen as an
empirical indication of a tendency towards equalization?  On the
contrary, we would expect -- given existing inequalities -- that if
there were such a tendency than it would manifest itself empirically
in a long-term _decline_ in wage disparities rather than relative
stability in wage disparities.

What I think might be an interesting exercise is to -- for a
whole series of nations --  test to see whether wage disparities
increase or decrease when GDP is growing or declining. This
might also tell us whether the assumed long-run stability is

One also has to identify the trends more concretely that have
affected wage disparities in the time period and social formations
examined.  For example, certain contingent phenomena might
exert a pressure for a decrease in wage disparities (e.g. the
international struggle by the women's movement for wage parity
with men) while other trends might increase wage disparities (e.g.
the trend towards an increase in the percentage of the workforce
who are contingent, i.e. part-time, workers).   And one would
want to examine to what extent there has been a net gain or
loss in skilled workers as a percentage of the wage-earning

One would have to ask whether there are significant
measurement problems and in what direction that biases the
statistical results.  For example, if the income of  'guest workers'
and undocumented workers are excluded from the statistics, then
the actual wage distribution could be _significantly_ more unequal
than the official statistics indicate.  What about the income of
other workers employed in the underground economy?

In solidarity, Jerry

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Tue Oct 05 2004 - 00:00:02 EDT