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Title: Intra-household wealth inequality and economic development: Evidence from Karnataka, India
Authors: Malghan, Deepak 
Swaminathan, Hema 
Keywords: Karnataka;Gender wealth gap;Intra-household;Mean log deviation;Inequality aversion parameter;Gender Kuznets Curve
Issue Date: 2015
Publisher: Indian Institute of Management Bangalore
Series/Report no.: IIMB Working Paper-487;
Abstract: While wealth inequality has attracted attention in the recent inequality literature, such inequalities within the most elementary social unit -- the household -- remain neglected. We develop an empirical framework for measuring intra-household wealth inequality. Using unique individual-level wealth data from Karnataka, India, we report how a third of overall wealth inequality is attributable to inequality within the household. A significant barrier to interpreting intra-household wealth inequalities is the public goods nature of several household assets. We overcome this limitation with a simple normative framework derived from the Atkinson index. While welfare measures are incommensurable across different households, welfare loss resulting from intra-household inequality are usefully compared across households. We report losses in aggregate welfare for plausible values of the Atkinson inequality aversion parameter. Recent work suggests a Gender Kuznets (GKC) hypothesis and finds evidence for a nonmonotonic relationship between gender inequality and economic development in a country. We extend this literature in two ways. First, we propose a test of the GKC hypothesis at the subnational level. We proxy economic development at the village level with satellite luminosity data (night lights) and find evidence for a non-monotonic relationship between women’s wealth share at the village level and economic development. Second, we propose a micro- Kuznets hypothesis using intra-household wealth inequality. Results from micro data suggest a negative relationship between intra-household inequality and aggregate household wealth.
Appears in Collections:2015

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