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In economics, the Lorenz curve is a graphical representation of the distribution of income or

of wealth. It was developed by Max O. Lorenz in 1905 for representing inequality of the wealth
The curve is a graph showing the proportion of overall income or wealth assumed by the
bottom x% of the people, although this is not rigorously true for a finite population (see below).
It is often used to represent income distribution, where it shows for the bottom x% of
households, what percentage (y%) of the total income they have. The percentage of households
is plotted on the x-axis, the percentage of income on the y-axis. It can also be used to show
distribution of assets. In such use, many economists consider it to be a measure of social
The concept is useful in describing inequality among the size of individuals in ecology[1] and in
studies of biodiversity, where the cumulative proportion of species is plotted against the
cumulative proportion of individuals.[2] It is also useful in business modeling: e.g., in consumer
finance, to measure the actual percentage y% of delinquencies attributable to the x% of people
with worst risk scores.

Points on the Lorenz curve represent statements like "the bottom 20% of all households have
10% of the total income."
A perfectly equal income distribution would be one in
which every person has the same income. In this case,
the bottom N% of society would always have N% of the
income. This can be depicted by the straight
line y = x; called the "line of perfect equality."
By contrast, a perfectly unequal distribution would
be one in which one person has all the income and
everyone else has none. In that case, the curve would
be at y = 0% for all x < 100%, and y = 100%
when x = 100%. This curve is called the "line of
perfect inequality."
The Gini coefficient is the ratio of the area between the
line of perfect equality and the observed Lorenz curve
to the area between the line of perfect equality and the
line of perfect inequality. The higher the
coefficient, the more unequal the distribution is. In the
diagram on the right, this is given by the ratio A/(A+B), where A and B are the areas of regions
as marked in the diagram.

The Lorenz Curve for Income Distribution

The Lorenz curve is a graphical way of representing the income distribution of a population.
Consider the following table on the income distribution of families in 1994.
Proportion of Total Income Received by Various Income
First Secon Third Fourth Fifth
Quintile Quintile Quintile Quintile Quintile
(20%) (20%) (20%) (20%) (20%)
4.2% 10.0% 15.7% 23.3% 46.9%

This information can be put in terms of the cumulative proportion of income and cumulative
proportion of families; i.e.,

Proportion of Total Income Received by Various Income

Lowest 20% Lowest 40% Lowest 60% Lowest 80% 100%
4.2% 14.2% 29.9% 53.2%

When the above information is plotted in a graph the result is called the Lorenz Curve.

The Gini Coefficient

The Lorenz curve for a completely even income distribution (every family has the same income)
would lie on the diagonal. If all of the income was received by one family the Lorenz would be a
zero for every point on the horizontal axis except 100% where it would jump to 100% on the
vertical axis. This would be the case of complete concentration of the income distribution and
would represent complete income inequality.
The Gini Coefficient for a Lorenz curve is defined as the ratio of the area between the Lorenz
curve and the diagonal to the triangle below the diagonal line. In the graph below the area
between the Lorenz curve and the diagonal is shown in green. The area of the triangle is the
green area plus the light blue area. The Gini coefficient is then a number that falls in the range
from 0 to 1. For the completely equal income distribution the area is zero and the Gini
coefficient is zero. For the completely concentrated distribution the area is the same as the
triangle so the Gini coefficent is one. For the U.S. familty income distribution for 1994 the Gini
coefficient is 0.424.

The Lorenz Curve


Income inequality is a pressing issue both in the United States and around the world. In
general, it is assumed that high-incomeinequality has negative consequences, so it's fairly
important to develop a simple way to describe income inequality graphically.
The Lorenz Curve is one way to graph inequality in income distribution.


The Lorenz curve is a simple way to describe income distribution using a two-dimensional
graph. To do this, imagine lining people (or households, depending on context) in an economy
up in order of income from smallest to largest. The horizontal axis of the Lorenz curve is then
the cumulative percentage of these lined up people that are being considered.
For example, the number 20 on the horizontal axis represents the bottom 20 percent of income
earners, the number 50 represents the bottom half of income earners, and so on.
The vertical axis of the Lorenz curve is the percent of total income in the economy.


We can start plotting the curve itself by noting that the points (0,0) and (100,100) have to be
the ends of the curve. This is simply because the bottom 0 percent of the population (which has
no people) has, by definition, zero percent of the economy's income, and 100 percent of the
population has 100 percent of the income.


The rest of the curve is then constructed by looking at all of the percentages of the population
between 0 and 100 percent and plotting the corresponding percentages of income.
In this example, the point (25,5) represents the hypothetical fact that the bottom 25 percent of
people have 5 percent of the income. The point (50,20) shows that the bottom 50 percent of
people have 20 percent of the income, and the point (75,40) shows that the bottom 75 percent
of people have 40 percent of the income.


Because of the way that the Lorenz curve is constructed, it will always be bowed downwards as
in the example above. This is simply because it is mathematically impossible for the bottom 20
percent of earners to make more than 20 percent of the income, for the bottom 50 percent of
earners to make more than 50 percent of the income, and so on.
The dotted line on the diagram is the 45-degree line that represents perfect income equality in
an economy. Perfect income equality is if everyone makes the same amount of money. That
means the bottom 5 percent has 5 percent of the income, the bottom 10 percent has 10 percent
of the income, and so on.
Therefore, we can conclude that Lorenz curves that are bowed further away from this diagonal
correspond to economies with more income inequality.

What is the 'Lorenz Curve?

The Lorenz curve is a graphical representation of income inequality or wealth inequality

developed by American economist Max Lorenz in 1905. The graph plots percentiles of the
population according to income or wealth on the horizontal axis. It plots cumulative income or
wealth on the vertical axis, so that an x-value of 45 and a y-value of 14.2 would mean that the
bottom 45% of the population controls 14.2% of the total income or wealth.
The Lorenz curve is often accompanied by a straight diagonal line with a slope of 1, which
represents perfect equality in income or wealth distribution; the Lorenz curve lies beneath it,
showing the actual distribution. The area between the straight line and the curved line,
expressed as a ratio of the area under the straight line, is the Gini coefficient, a measurement
of inequality.

BREAKING DOWN 'Lorenz Curve'

While the Lorenz curve is most often used to represent economic inequality, it can be used to
represent unequal distribution in any system. The farther away the curve is from the baseline,
represented by the straight diagonal line, the higher the level of inequality. In economics, the
Lorenz curve denotes inequality in the distribution of either wealth or income; these are not
synonymous, since it is possible to have high earnings but zero or negative net worth, or to
have low earnings but a large net worth.
The Gini coefficient is used to express the extent of inequality in a single figure. It can range
from 0 (or 0%) to 1 (or 100%). Complete equality, in which every individual has the exact same
income or wealth, corresponds to a coefficient of 0. Plotted as a Lorenz curve, complete equality
would be a straight diagonal line with a slope of 1 (the area between this curve and itself is 0,
so the Gini coefficient is 0). A coefficient of 1 means that one person earns all of the income or
holds all of the wealth. Accounting for negative wealth or income, the figure can theoretically be
higher than 1; in that case the Lorenz curve would dip below the horizontal axis.

Lorenz Curve


(written as Lorenz curve)
a curve developed by the economist Max Lorenz which shows the inequality of incomes,
plotting cumulative income against the cumulative variable of the population which is being
Health Economics

The Lorenz curve was developed by Max Lorenz (1880-1962), a US economist who
developed it to describe income inequalities. It shows the cumulative percentage of income,
health care expenditures, etc. held by successive percentiles of the population. The
percentage of individuals or households is plotted on the horizontal axis, the percentage of
income, health care expenditures, etc. on the vertical axis. A perfectly equal distribution,
where each has the same, appears as a straight line called the line of equality. A completely
unequal distribution, where one person has everything, appears as a mirror L shape. This is
a line of perfect inequality.

Lorenz curves and Gini coefficients:

The Lorenz curve

The Lorenz curve was developed by an American statistician and economist named Max Lorenz
when he was a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin. His article on the topic
"Methods of Measuring the Concentration of Wealth," appeared in Publications of the American
Statistical Association , Vol. 9, No. 70 (Jun., 1905), pp. 209-219. The CBO report explains it
this way:

"The cumulative percentage of income can be plotted against the cumulative percentage of the
population, producing a so-called Lorenz curve (see the figure). The more even the income
distribution is, the closer to a 45-degree line the Lorenz curve is. At one extreme, if each income
group had the same income, then the cumulative income share would equal the cumulative
population share, and the Lorenz curve would follow the 45-degree line, known as the line of
equality. At the other extreme, if the highest income group earned all the income, the Lorenz
curve would be flat across the vast majority of the income range, following the bottom edge of
the figure, and then jump to the top of the figure at the very right-hand edge.

Lorenz curves for actual income distributions fall between those two hypothetical extremes.
Typically, they intersect the diagonal line only at the very first and last points. Between those
points, the curves are bow-shaped below the 45-degree line. The Lorenz curve of market income
falls to the right and below the curve for after-tax income, reflecting its greater inequality. Both
curves fall to the right and below the line of equality, reflecting the inequality in both market
income and after-tax income."
The Gini coefficient

The Gini coefficient was developed by an Italian statistician (and noted fascist thinker) Corrado
Gini in a 1912 paper written in Italian (and to my knowledge not freely available on the web).
The intuition is straightforward (although the mathematical formula will look a little messier).
On a Lorenz curve, greater equality means that the line based on actual data is closer to the
45-degree line that shows a perfectly equal distribution. Greater inequality means that the line
based on actual data will be more "bowed" away from the 45-degree line. The Gini coefficient is
based on the area between the 45-degree line and the actual data line. As the CBO writes:

"The Gini index is equal to twice the area between the 45-degree line and the Lorenz curve.
Once again, the
extreme cases of complete equality and complete inequality bound the measure. At one
extreme, if
income was evenly distributed and the Lorenz curve followed the 45-degree line, there would be
no area
between the curve and the line, so the Gini index would be zero. At the other extreme, if all
income was
in the highest income group, the area between the line and the curve would be equal to the
entire area
under the line, and the Gini index would equal one. The Gini index for [U.S.] after-tax income in
2007 was
0.489about halfway between those two extremes."

Term Lorenz curve Definition:

In general, a diagram illustrating the degree of inequality and concentration for a group. This is
accomplished by plotting the cumulative percentage of a total amount obtained by cumulative
percentages of the group. A common use of the Lorenz curve is the distribution of income, in
which the cumulative percentage of income is measured on the vertical axis and the cumulative
percentage of the population is measured on the horizontal axis. Perfect equality is indicated by
a 45-degree line (that is, 10% of the population has 10% of the income, 20% of the population
has 20% of the income, etc.). The actual Lorenz curve inevitably lies below the 45-degree line.
The extent that the Lorenz curve differs from the 45-degree line indicates the extent of

Report in Econ-110
Mary Ann V. Perez Econ 1-A