Human Capital Multidisciplinary Research Center

How Can We Perceive and Evaluate Economic Inequality?

The Human Capital Multidisciplinary Research Center has published the 14th issue of the scientific digest. It presents the results of the classification and analysis of various methods for measuring perceived economic inequality, carried out by the Department of Psychology (HSE University)

The author of the digest (Elena Agadullina) revealed that different patterns of individuals’ behavior and well-being are associated not only with the objective level of economic inequality, but also with ideas about how various indicators of well-being are distributed among members of society (perceived economic inequality). The possibilities of constructing effective models for predicting social behavior are directly related to the features of the methods used to assess perceived economic inequality. Besides, the ways of measuring perceived economic inequality can be classified according to the type of task that the respondent is asked to perform (assessment of the level of inequality, choice among alternatives, distribution, and self-categorization). During the study, it was found that different ways of measuring perceived economic inequality contribute to estimation bias. These biases related to the motivation to give a socially desirable answer, the tendency to categorize yourself to the middle of the social hierarchy, the lack of clear ideas about the structure of society, or errors in the transformation of respondents’ answers into universal indicators. Summing up, the author emphasizes that no measure is perfect, and researchers need to try to offset the shortcomings of each specific measurement by controlling additional factors.

NCMU Scientific Digest Project managed by Olga Voron.

Digest No. 14 is available via the link.