February 28, 2018
Written by WID.world

Gini coefficients available

WID.world now provides Gini coefficients on WID.world for more than 2000 inequality series (click here). The Gini, which provides a synthetic measure of inequality, ranges from 0 (in case of perfect equality) to 1 (a situation in which one person captures all resources in an economy). This index has been widely used for inequality research and several users asked for its inclusion in the database. In order to facilitate comparison of our data with other research material, we have decided to include Ginis.

This measure however has several important drawbacks. Most important, it lacks intuitive meaning and hence cannot resonate with the broader public of non-specialists. Because it is synthetic, it can be used to mask very poor underlying data. It may also mask important evolutions for certain groups of the distribution. (For a review of the issues associated to the Gini coefficient, refer to Chapter 1 of the World Inequality Report 2018.) To users looking for Ginis, we suggest also referring to more explicit inequality measures of inequality. WID.world provides as the top 1%, top 10%, middle 40% and bottom 50% as “key indicators”, but other groups can be obtained from the custom menus of the datababse. The Ginis can be obtained in the menu “more indicator” / “income (or wealth) inequality” / “key” (scroll the menu down to see the indicator).

Coefficients available in the database range from 0.21 (distribution of national income in Urban China in the 1980s) to more than 0.9 (capital income in the US and distribution of wealth in France in the 19th century), which shows how economic inequality varies greatly across time and space.