Essays on Inequality and Polarization: Empirical Studies in Developing Asia

Arip Muttaqien, UNU-MERIT

The discussion concerning inequality has increased significantly in recent years and has attracted the attention of various stakeholders, including governments and international bodies, as well as scholars. Thus, addressing inequality has turned into an action point on the global agenda (i.e., sustainable development goals). Additionally, polarization is a measurement of household welfare distribution (also including earnings distribution) that has recently received considerable attention from academics due to the existence of social conflict, potential causes of rebellions and tensions, and ethnic conflicts. Whereas inequality only measures the spread of welfare relative to the mean of the entire distribution, polarization emphasizes the spread of welfare relative to the local means at several points along the distribution.

The dissertation relies on individual and household level data using microsimulation and decomposition techniques in developing Asian countries, namely China, India, and Indonesia. The first four essays enrich the discussion of the empirical analysis of inequality, while the last two essays complete the analysis of polarization. The first essay establishes why inequality differs so much across countries. The second essay focuses on the effect of the informal sector on inequality at the individual and household levels. The third essay explores the feasibility of the EU tax-benefit microsimulation model (EUROMOD) in developing countries. The fourth essay assesses the incidence of indirect taxation in developing countries. The fifth essay examines why polarization varies so much across countries. Lastly, the sixth essay seeks to determine the relationship between ethnicity, earnings polarization, and regional characteristics.

Venue: Aula, Minderbroedersberg 4-6, Maastricht

Date: 24 January 2019

Time: 14:00 - 15:30