Abstract

Using a method-of-moments estimator, flexible three-parameter beta distributions are fitted to aggregate country-level income data to overcome an untenable assumption of previous studies that persons within each income group receive the same income. Regional and global income distributions are derived as weighted mixtures of country-specific distributions. Analytical expressions for Gini and Theil's measures of inequality at country, regional, and global levels are derived in terms of the parameters of the beta distributions. Application to data for 91 countries in 1993 and 2000 reveals a high degree of global inequality, with evidence of declining inequality, largely attributable to growth in China.

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