Handbook of Research on Economic and Social Well-Being
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Handbook of Research on Economic and Social Well-Being

Edited by Conchita D’Ambrosio

The past decade has been characterized by a burgeoning interest in new concepts of individual and social well-being. The impetus for this new research has stemmed from increased demand from policy makers and civil society for measures of progress that go beyond the traditional measures of GDP, as well as improved datasets allowing individuals and households to be tracked over their life course. The aim of this Handbook is to chart these developments and provide extensive surveys of many of the recent themes that have emerged in the research literature. Some of the topics addressed include poverty. relative deprivation and satisfaction, economic insecurity, social exclusion and inequality, income and social polarization, and social fractionalization and diversity. Each topic is first analyzed from a theoretical perspective, followed by detailed empirical discussion.
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Chapter 19: Income and social polarization: theoretical approaches

Iñaki Permanyer

Abstract

The concept of polarization is related to the clustering of individuals forming groups in different parts of a given distribution. The existing relationship between polarization, socioeconomic stability and economic growth has contributed to motivating the interest in the study of polarization. In the empirical literature, polarization measures have often been used to explain episodes of social tension or conflict. This chapter aims at providing a wide overview of the different approaches that have been proposed so far in the conceptualization and measurement of polarization. Most contributions to the measurement of polarization can be classified into two categories: income polarization and social polarization measures. The former measure the extent to which individuals are clustered around local and opposing poles in the income distribution. The latter try to capture the notion of polarization related to non-income characteristics, such as ethnicity, race or religion. Both types of polarization measures are explored.

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