What can we learn from international evidence on trends in income distributio
In an essay comparing living standards in Australia and Japan, Ian Castles described the challenge for policymakers as being that of using ‘the skills and strengths of their peoples to improve opportunities for the enhancement of their well-being in its broadest sense’ (Castles, 1990: 16). There was, he noted, ‘little point in trying to encapsulate the differences [in wellbeing] in any single measure’ (ibid: 15), but that hardly meant one should not attempt to measure carefully what could be measured. It was in that spirit that Castles undertook several international comparisons of living standards and income distribution, including between Australia, Japan, Sweden and the United States (Castles, 1984, 1990).
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