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Sufficientarianism and the Measurement of Inequality

Rudolf Schuessler

Abstract

What impact should sufficientarianism have on the measurement of inequality? Like other theories of justice, sufficientarianism influences how economic inequality is conceived. For the purpose of measurement, its standards of justice can be approximated by income-based thresholds of sufficiency. At which income level could a threshold of having enough be pegged in OECD countries? What would it imply for standard indicators of inequality, such as decile comparisons of cumulated income, income spreads, or the Gini coefficient? This paper suggests some answers to these questions, showing that sufficientarian ideas could make a difference with respect to the measurement of inequality in a society.

Acknowledgements

Research for this paper was funded by BMBF FONA grant 01UT1411C. I thank Hartmut Egger, Fritz Gillerke, Peter Heindl, Lasse Nielsen and the participants of the Aarhus Workshop on ‘Europe and Distributive Justice’ (June 2017) for helpful discussion and suggestions. I am also grateful for the many constructive comments of this journal’s reviewers. Of course, all shortcomings of the paper remain mine.

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Published Online: 2018-10-25
Published in Print: 2019-05-27

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