INCOME INEQUALITY, FISCAL POLICY AND LIFE SATISFACTION IN THE BALTIC STATES

Edgars Vītols

Abstract


Income inequality has received widespread attention in the scientific literature. Income inequality has a significant impact on the health and education levels of the population, as well as increases social tension and crime rates, however there is less research on the impact of income inequality on people`s overall life satisfaction. In Lithuania and Latvia, income inequality expressed by the Gini index of disposable income is among the highest in the EU, whereas in Estonia, income inequality is slightly higher than the average in the EU. Similar results are also found for the Lithuania and Latvia regarding overall life satisfaction, which is among the lowest in the EU, while overall life satisfaction in Estonia is somewhat lower than the average in the EU. The aim of the research is to assess whether income inequality has a negative impact on people`s overall life satisfaction and to evaluate how fiscal policy has affected income inequality and overall life satisfaction in the Baltic States. The results of the research show that income inequality and life satisfaction are negatively correlated, and that fiscal policy has reduced income inequality in the Baltic States, expressed by the Gini index based on market income, on average by 30%.

KEYWORDS: fiscal policy, income inequality, life satisfaction.

JEL CODES: E62; O15

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15181/rfds.v31i2.2101


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