Pre-distribution and Post-distribution

Note: This is an outline of thoughts rather than some type of persuasive argument – in time I should make an effort to flesh out all the little bits in this, but it is just a run down of my current general thoughts.  Take it as such and feel free to provide constructive feedback 😉

Anyone who reads this who also read my writing pre-2014 will remember that I was a strong post-distributionalist when it comes to social insurance policy.  To the point where the term pre-distribution (or predistribution) did not appear on TVHE when I did a search.

Since then the economic environment has changed and I have spent more time considering these issues.  So have my views changed?  Let’s consider the issue.

Tl;dr No, but I think the terminology can be used more clearly. With regards to redistribution – if our concern is the distribution of income alone pre-distributionalist policies are indirect and inefficient.  But pre-distribution policy prescriptions have relevance when discussing issues of transition – which is essentially insurance from shocks, and the provision of job/income security (as apart from a security net).  Such insurance can be costly, but is still worth discussing in this frame. Furthermore, if we stretch the term pre-distribution far enough it becomes ridiculous – sure the whole study of economics concerns the distribution of income, but the name is used for a subfield for a reason.

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Christmas reading: McCloskey on Piketty

It’s taken me a month to read it but Deirdre McCloskey’s essay on Piketty’s Capital is just as persuasive as you’d expect. Print it and read it with your family over Christmas!

The review doesn’t break any new ground but it is eloquent and engaging. Her central themes are: Read more

Piketty Panel

Hello New Zealand readers.  Just giving you a heads up that tomorrow (Thursday, 23 October) there is a panel discussion on the Piketty book (Capital in the Twenty-First Century) and its relevance to New Zealand.

As I contributed to the related book of book reviews, and as this particular event is in Wellington (where I live), I’m on the panel.  Here are the details which I stole from an email:

The event is at the Royal Society (11 Turnbull Street, Thordon) and begins at 5.30pm.
 
Bernard Hickey is chairing the panel, with the other panellists being Geoff Bertram, Brian Easton, Prue Hyman, Max Rashbrooke and Cathy Wylie. 
 
The aim of the event is simply to have some broad and engaging discussion on the relevance of Piketty for New Zealand, with reference to the book being launched on the night. 

And if it swings your boat, you can even join the Facebook event.

If you want to prepare beforehand, here is my long-form review (filled with typos – like honestly filled, it is a first draft that never went any further), here are some common misconceptions, and here is a list of other reviews.

What is a Gini?

Everywhere we turn nowadays people are talking about Ginis.  And sadly, they are not misspelling Genie, they are talking about Gini coefficients.

The reason for this interest in Gini coefficient stems from the fact they are used to measure “inequality” in an income distribution – with books such as the Spirit Level made hay discussing the relationship between Gini coefficients and other social outcomes.

Now I’ve spent a bunch of time talking about the claims (eg for the Spirit Level directly I wrote this and this), but I’ve never written anything directly about the Gini coefficient.  There is a good reason for this, while I understand it is a measure of dispersion in a distribution I still had to (and still need to) learn things about the measure and other measures.

However, let me discuss what the Gini coefficient is – or at least one of a multitude of different ways we can view a Gini coefficient.

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A response to Danyl on data and inequality

Over at Dim Post I see Danyl is discussing the latest (2014) Household Income Report and Piketty’s book Capital in the 21st Century.  Excellent – there are lots of important and interesting issues to discussing look at these sources.

However, in this instance the data he is using and his interpretation is sadly a bit off.  I thought I’d discuss why this is here. Read more

Tweetpic of the day

James sent me the following, I have nothing to add:

I’d also point out that Piketty has discussed claims of data mistakes here:

The key predictions did not rely on these perceived data errors in the first place – it is the framework for thinking about inequality that was of use, and which helped to create debate.  A debate that seems to have moved past his explanations, and looks like it will lead to a lot more research – which is choicetastic!