OECD Journal: Economic Studies

  • Discontinued

OECD Journal: Economic Studies publishes articles in the area of economic policy analysis, applied economics and statistical analysis, generally with an international or cross-country dimension. It draws significantly on economic papers produced by the OECD Economics Department, other parts of the OECD Secretariat and the Organisation’s intergovernmental committees.


Publicly provided services and the distribution of households' economic resources

Conventional income distribution statistics subtract taxes from household income but do not take into account the distributional effects of the services financed through these taxes. As many of the functions of government are available to the population free of charge or at a subsidised rate, this means that income distribution figures exaggerate the degree of inequality in the distribution of resources. This article examines the extent to which this is the case, and assesses whether statements about the relative inequality prevailing in different countries are reliable. Estimates of the impact of government services on the static distribution of household income, based on two different approaches, show that publicly-provided goods and services significantly narrow the dispersion of income inequality across countries with only small changes in the ranking of individual countries, and that the effects are larger when looking at the extremes of the distributions.

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