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Horizontal Equity, Uncertainty, and Economic Well-being

The result of a National Bureau of Economic Research Income and Wealth conference held in December 1983, this volume looks at the concept of "economic well-being" and the ways that analysts have tried to measure it. In addition to income, economists have begun to consider such factors as pensions, wealth, health, and environment when measuring the well-being of a particular group. They have also begun to measure how consumers respond, successfully or unsuccessfully, to such economic uncertainties as inflation, divorce, and retirement. Using new data and techniques, the contributors to this book concentrate on issues of uncertainty and horizontal equity (the equal treatment of individuals within a defined group). Their work points to better ways of determining how various groups in a society are faring relative to other groups. Economists and policy analysts, therefore, will be in a better position to determine how government programs should be applied when well-being is used as a test.

Table of Contents

Prefatory Note
Martin David and Timothy Smeeding
1. Happiness, Affluence, and Altruism in the Postwar Period
Frank Levy
Comment: Lee Rainwater
2. The Impact of Changes in Income and Family Composition on Subjective Measures of Well-Being
Arie Kapteyn, Sara van de Geer, and Huib van de Stadt
Comment: Harold W. Watts
3. Estimating Changes in Well-Being across Life: A Realized versus Comprehensive Income Approach
Richard V. Burkhauser, J. S. Butler, and James T. Wilkinson
Comment: Lee A. Lillard
4. Wealth, Realized Income, and the Measure of Well-Being
Eugene Steuerle
Comment: James D. Smith
5. Inflation Vulnerability, Income, and Wealth of the Elderly, 1969-1979
Michael D. Hurd and John B. Shoven
Comment: Sheldon Danziger
6. The Horizontal and Vertical Equity Characteristics of the Federal Individual Income Tax, 1966-1977
Marcus C. Berliant and Robert P. Strauss
Comment: T. N. Srinivasan
7. Measuring the Benefits of Income Maintenance Programs
David Betson and Jacques van der Gaag
Comment: F. Thomas Juster
8. A Comparison of Measures of Horizontal Inequity
Robert Plotnick
Comment: Edward M. Gramlich
9. Rewards for Continued Work: The Economic Incentives for Postponing Retirement
Olivia S. Mitchell and Gary S. Fields
Comment: Joseph F. Quinn
10. Income, Inequality, and Uncertainty: Differences between the Disabled and Nondisabled
Robert H. Haveman and Barbara L. Wolfe
Comment: Dan Usher
11. Household Wealth and Health Insurance as Protection against Medical Risks
Pamela J. Farley and Gail R. Wilensky
Comment: Joseph P. Newhouse
12. The Valuation of Environmental Risks Using Hedonic Wage Models
V. Kerry Smith and Carol C. S. Gilbert
Comment: T. H. Tietenberg
13. Interfamily Transfers and Income Redistribution
Donald Cox and Fredric Raines
Comment: Paul L. Menchik
14. Economic Consequences of Marital Instability
Greg J. Duncan and Saul D. Hoffman
Comment: Isabel V. Sawhill
15. Variations in the Economic Well-Being of Divorced Women and Their Children: The Role of Child Support Income
Andrea H. Beller and John W. Graham
Comment: Irwin Garfinkel
List of Contributors
Author Index
Subject Index

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