The increased frustration with income inequality voiced by Egyptians may be driven by factors other than income inequality, according to a study published by the World Bank on 1 August.
The research, titled Top Income and the Measurement of Inequality in Egypt, aimed to assess the true value of income inequality and evaluate the quality of data in the Household Income, Expenditure and Consumption Survey (HIECS) and compare the results with World Values Surveys.
“There is an important discrepancy between income inequality as measured by household expenditure surveys and the perception of income inequality as reported by people in values surveys,” the report said.
“This is no small issue given that part of the frustration voiced by the people of Egypt and culminated with the Egyptian revolution in 2011 has been explained in terms of inequality and social injustice,” the report added
However, other factors took the blame for the mismatching data of income inequality. The report stated that the inspection of the HIECS data, done by evaluating the distributions of income, expenditure and other socioeconomic characteristics of households, did not reveal any likely data errors.
One of these factors is the unit non-response, which increased the estimate of inequality by 1.3%.
“Across governorates, the HIECS’s non-response rate in 2009 ranged from 0.0% to 10.5% with a mean of 3.7%,” the report read.
“While the nationwide average non-response rate in the HIECS data is lower than in household surveys in other countries, it still leads to biases in statistics based on the observed sample,” the report explained.
The report stated there are many causes that could explain the perceptions of inequality related to its measurement such as; the role of expectations about the future, changes in the reference groups, the expansion and penetration of social media or the lack of GDP trickle-down effects.