Aspiration gaps tend to vary with trust in governments4 min read 08 Sep 2021, 11:42 PM IST
Higher trust in the state administration is found to go with better achievement of aspirations
Amartya Sen wrote in the preface to his classic study On Economic Inequality (1972) that the idea of inequality is both very simple and very complex. At its simplest, the idea has enormous public appeal. At another level, however, it is an extremely complex notion which makes statements on inequality highly problematic. A rich literature has emerged, with contributions by economists, sociologists and philosophers illuminating multiple dimensions of inequality. There are objective measures (such as the Gini coefficient) and normative measures (Atkinson’s measure which incorporates inequality aversion). We use a new measure that reflects the gap between aspirational income/expenditure and actual income/expenditure. More specifically, the ratio of actual per capita expenditure to the maximum in the primary sampling unit (or PSU, a cluster of villages/wards). This has two merits: (i) simplicity, and (ii) intuitive appeal in so far as it captures a relativity that figures prominently in individual decisions. We examine the association between this measure of inequality and trust in the state government and other covariates.