CEBA talks 2020-2021
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Robust Inference on Income Inequality: t-Statistic Based Approaches

Authors: Rustam Ibragimov, Paul Kattuman, Anton Skrobotov

Abstract: Empirical analyses on income and wealth inequality and those in other fields in economics and finance often face the difficulty that the data is heterogeneous, heavy-tailed or correlated in some unknown fashion. The paper focuses on applications of the recently developed \textit{t}-statistic based robust inference approaches in the analysis of inequality measures and their comparisons under the above problems. Following the approaches, in particular, a robust large sample test on equality of two parameters of interest (e.g., a test of equality of inequality measures in two regions or countries considered) is conducted as follows: The data in the two samples dealt with is partitioned into fixed numbers q1,q2≥2 (e.g., q1=q2=2,4,8) of groups, the parameters (inequality measures dealt with) are estimated for each group, and inference is based on a standard two-sample t−test with the resulting q1,q2 group estimators. Robust t−statistic approaches result in valid inference under general conditions that group estimators of parameters (e.g., inequality measures) considered are asymptotically independent, unbiased and Gaussian of possibly different variances, or weakly converge, at an arbitrary rate, to independent scale mixtures of normal random variables. These conditions are typically satisfied in empirical applications even under pronounced heavy-tailedness and heterogeneity and possible dependence in observations. The methods dealt with in the paper complement and compare favorably with other inference approaches available in the literature. The use of robust inference approaches is illustrated by an empirical analysis of income inequality measures and their comparisons across different regions in Russia.

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