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Unformatted text preview: Income Inequality and Poverty ANSWERS TO ENDOFCHAPTER QUESTIONS 321 Using quintiles to briefly summarize the degree of income inequality in the United States. How and to what extent does government contribute to income equality? The income share received by the highest 20 percent was 50.1 percent in 2004, which is more than ten times the 3.4 percent received by the lowest 20 percent. The middle three quintiles receive under 50 percent of the total beforetax income. The top two quintiles receive twice as much as the bottom three quintiles combined; in fact, the top 20 percent receives more than the bottom 80 percent. The effect of government on the distribution of income occurs through both taxes and transfer payments. The total effect of federal, state, and local taxes on income distribution is mildly progressive in that highincome households pay a somewhat higher proportion of their incomes in taxes than lowincome families. But about 80 percent of governments contribution to income equality takes place through transfer programs. This contribution is particularly significant for those in the lowest quintile, for whom government transfer payments comprise over 75 percent of total income. These statistics do not necessarily mean that the contribution of government in furthering equality is entirely positive. To the extent that transfer programs aimed at lowerincome households decrease the incentive to work, the earned incomes of these households will be less than otherwise. Also, some transfer programs go to the nonpoor. For example, most farm subsidies go to the wealthiest farmers, and higher education funding tends to benefit middle to highincome students. 322 ( Key Question ) Assume Al, Beth, Carol, David, and Ed receive incomes of $500, $250, $125, $75, and $50 respectively. Construct and interpret a Lorenz curve for this fiveperson economy. What percentage of total income is received by the richest and by the poorest quintiles? See the figure below. In this simple economy each person represents a complete income quintile 20 percent of the total population. The richest quintile (Al) receives 50 percent of total income; the poorest quintile (Ed) receives 5 percent. 323 How does the Gini ratio relate to the Lorenz curve? Why cant the Gini ratio exceed 1? What is implied about the direction of income inequality if the Gini ratio declines from 0.42 to 0.35? How would one show that change of inequality in the Lorenz diagram? The Gini ratio is the numerical measurement of the inequality depicted by the Lorenz curve. It is calculated by dividing the area between the curve and the diagonal by the total area below the diagonal. 221 Income Inequality and Poverty The Gini ratio cant exceed 1 because if the Lorenz curve is as far as possible from the diagonal (line of equality), the area between the curve and the diagonal will equal the total area below the diagonal. The equality will result in a Gini ratio of 1....
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This note was uploaded on 03/03/2010 for the course ECON E103 taught by Professor Johnson during the Spring '08 term at Indiana University South Bend.
 Spring '08
 Johnson
 Microeconomics

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