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Handbook of Income Distribution by Francois Bourguignon, Anthony B. Atkinson

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3.4 Multidimensional Inequality Measurement

The surge of research on the measurement of inequality in multiple dimensions is fairly recent, but the central question is far from new. In Income Distribution, Value Judgments, and Welfare, Fisher was not interested in money income, a “scalar,” but in “real” income, that is, “a vector whose components are amounts of commodities” (Fisher, 1956, p. 382). His analysis was carried out by aggregating commodities either by using constant prices—to which he assigned “no particular significance … as market valuations of the commodities. Any arbitrary set of weights would do as well” (Fisher, 1956, p. 383, fn. 6)—or by means of individual utility functions. Social welfare was thus seen as an aggregation of ...

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