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Old 10-01-2013, 10:47 PM   #11
Agemegos
 
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Default Re: Index of inequality

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Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
I'll grant that that is possible for social mobility, but I don't see how it can possibly work for social stratification. Inequality of income is a key part of social stratification.
Sure. The content of the entries won't be independent.

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In any case, I still want to know not only about the very rich and the very poor, but about where the people in the middle stand in relation to either.
Quite.
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Old 10-02-2013, 12:45 AM   #12
Peter Knutsen
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[QUOTE=Agemegos;1653691
What would work for you?[/QUOTE]

A bit more complex, but what might work for me would be the Lifestyle that is affordable by the very poorest, the poor, the average, the rich and the very rich.

Lifestyles are a concept from the Shadowrun RPG, in which you pay a monthly amount of $ and for this gets a home, a certain quality of food, entertainment, clothing replacement and a vehicle.

I'll be making something similar for Sagatafl at a later point, at least with some detail for the TeLs that interest me the most, early medieval (for my rth setting) and present day or a bit earlier (I'm a fan of the more brainy 70s and 80s action thriller films).

GURPS' Cost-of-Living is almost the same, but is a bit less fine-grained, in that each CoL maps to a particular Status with only about 10 possible values. The Witchcraft RPG has something similar, but tied to a character's Wealth stat with, again, about 9 or 11 possible values, going all the way from a homeless street person and up to multi-millionaire.

So, what I'd want to know is, what Lifestyle can the very poorest, those at around the 0.1% mark, afford, what Lifestyle can the poor, at around the 2% mark, afford, what Lifestyle can the median or average (I'm not sure which of these two is best, but it's early morning and pre-breakfast here) afford, what Lifestyle can the 98% mark afford, and what Lifestyle can those at the 99.9% mark afford?

Thus five items, each one "explaining" to me what one of these five "types" can have and what they can't have, in terms that are immediately understandable, and preferably (because that'd be much easier to read) a single figure for each.

Just stating an amount of dollars, or credits, for each of those five types, doesn't strike me as satisfactory, because it cannot be assumed that food and rent costs the same everywhere.

So, any kind of universal indicator of quality-of-life, for those particular five marks, which include the very bottom and the very top.

GURPS posits that CoL does not go up with rising Tech Level, meaning that the poor are able to afford increasingly better quality of life, as technology improves, and while that has been criticized, it is in principle correct.
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Old 10-02-2013, 12:48 AM   #13
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Default Re: Index of inequality

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Is it practical to include a basic graphic? You can put quite a lot of information in a rather small line graph.
It might be, but he's describing an entire planet, and I believe it's for a general-purpose RPG, not for a more specific campaign, such as Interstellar Traders or Social Engineers, so "spending" the necessary square inches that a graph takes up might not be a good idea.
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Old 10-02-2013, 12:51 AM   #14
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The most informative multi-number model is probably percentage of the population in certain income brackets. For example, in the US, 8% of households are under $10k, 17% are $10-25k, 25% are $25-50k, 29% are $50-100k, 17% at $100-200k, and 4% for more than $200k.
Unless that's a GURPS $, then I really don't have a clue how much that buys me.

There are massive taxation differences, both income tax and VAT, between Denmark and the USA, so I have only a very poor sense of how much a real-world $ is worth. I could go to Google and ask it to translate 1 USD to DKK for me, but that tells me nothing useful.

If Agamegos uses a universal game world currency, of course, then the problem largely goes away, ignoring the potential that the cost of living may be higher on some planets than on others.
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Old 10-02-2013, 12:55 AM   #15
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Default Re: Index of inequality

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Is it practical to include a basic graphic? You can put quite a lot of information in a rather small line graph.
It might be eventually, though the question does arise: when I'm trying to produce a one-page table of the most essential information about a planet and society, how many square centimetres does the distribution of wealth deserve?
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Old 10-02-2013, 05:27 AM   #16
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Default Re: Index of inequality

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Is it practical to include a basic graphic? You can put quite a lot of information in a rather small line graph.
Yes, a graph would be best. One of the more important things is that it allows easily visualising slopes, gaps and bulges. Whether linear or logarithmic is a hard question, though.
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It might be eventually, though the question does arise: when I'm trying to produce a one-page table of the most essential information about a planet and society, how many square centimetres does the distribution of wealth deserve?
33 if the graphs are distinct enough to give the gist of the distribution.

But other important considerations (for me) would be:
  • How this maps to the CoLs of various Status levels in a given state/planet/region? E.g. Transhuman Space has 1 higher personal wealth, but 3 higher CoLs for all Status levels across the board (except dwelling costs, which are somewhat lower than that).
  • Which percentage of those wealths is Job-related, and which is Independent Income? A planet where 99% of people are toiling 90h/week and 1% live off the peons' work is very different from the one where 99% are living on government subsidies while the 1% are super-workers who are taxed, but are filthy rich anyway because their work is really worth so much to the society (I'm thinking some kind of Supers-enabled leisure society; not necessarily realistic, just an example).
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Old 10-02-2013, 07:00 AM   #17
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How does the proposed system allow for various socio-economic systems and definitions of property? I can see issues, for example, if the poorest 10% of the population are property rather than holding property (but this may still not correlate to standard of living - for example the emperor's chief eunuch may be legally a slave and own nothing, but will live better than the majority of the population) and likewise for communistic/collective societies where it's difficult to attribute assets to any one person.
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Old 10-02-2013, 10:59 AM   #18
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I like Gini, but since you are going to be showing data for low tech planets, I recommend the subsistence correction. Essentially, for very poor places, a low Gini can be associated with high inequality due to the relative size of the surplus.

Example:
If a low tech colony has an average production of 3 SVUs per colonist per day, but bare survival on that colony requires 2.8, the Gini is never going to show much inequality, even if the entire productive surplus is consumed by one individual.
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Old 10-02-2013, 03:57 PM   #19
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Default Re: Index of inequality

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How does the proposed system allow for various socio-economic systems and definitions of property? I can see issues, for example, if the poorest 10% of the population are property rather than holding property (but this may still not correlate to standard of living - for example the emperor's chief eunuch may be legally a slave and own nothing, but will live better than the majority of the population) and likewise for communistic/collective societies where it's difficult to attribute assets to any one person.
Oddities concerning the definition of wealth are going to be rife in the wacky SF economies I plan to use this for. Simanta is an extremely wealthy colony, but a Simantan of ordinary intellect would suppose that a road, a factory, or an apartment house was not the kind of thing that can be owned. A Tau Cetian under 75 legally owns a substantial portfolio of investments, but can neither dis-save them nor consume the income. A Seeonese doesn't own much, but her lodge may be very rich or poor. On Margulis women own real estate (and usually capital) in common with their matrilineal clan and men own very little (but don't have to provide for children).

So we must suppose that the Gini coefficients listed are not for the distribution of wealth but for the distribution of income, after taxes and transfers, including non-marketed income, and adjusted for oddities of household structure. I don't even know how some of the adjustments could be done. We will have to consider the "inequality" values reported as merely indicative.

One of the chief appeals of the genre (rationalised planetary romance) to my mind is the clash between preconceptions such as "social class" and alternative social constructions such as Tau Ceti where the "worker" and "rentier" economic roles are not socio-economic classes but stages in the life cycle, and Simanta where "white collar" and "blue-collar" jobs belong to different parahuman species.
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Old 10-02-2013, 04:19 PM   #20
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One of the chief appeals of the genre (rationalised planetary romance) to my mind is the clash between preconceptions such as "social class" and alternative social constructions such as Tau Ceti where the "worker" and "rentier" economic roles are not socio-economic classes but stages in the life cycle, and Simanta where "white collar" and "blue-collar" jobs belong to different parahuman species.
Worker and rentier are stages in the American life cycle. You get a job at 18 or 20 or 30, and you work till 50 or 65 or 70, and then you live off your investments and your pension (which is return on investments managed by someone else) and your Social Security (which is not legally return on an investment, as you have no vested right to get any of it back, but functions much the same way and is seemingly politically impossible to defund).

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