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 20: Income and social polarization: empirical findings

Chiara Gigliarano


The idea that high levels of polarization in society can lead to social instability and conflict has motivated an increasing interest in the analysis of income and social polarization. This chapter aims at providing a review of the main empirical findings resulting from the application of income and social polarization indices. The two main approaches to the study of income polarization are introduced. The first focuses on the rise of separated income groups, while the second addresses the decline of the middle class. Both approaches have been applied to the study of social conflict. Alternative methods for monitoring income polarization based on nonparametric density estimation techniques are also illustrated. Empirical applications of social polarization indices are then discussed. Finally, other applications are presented, such as health polarization, effects of taxation on income polarization and the link between wage polarization and labour market mobility.

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