Title

Zakat and inequality: Some evidence from Pakistan

Document Type

Working Paper

Journal/Book Title/Conference

Review of Income and Wealth

Volume

40

Article

1068

Issue

2

Pages

205-216

Publication Date

11-1993

Department or Program

Economics Department

Abstract

This paper presents empirical evidence on the extent to which zakat - a form of religiously-mandated charity under Islam - achieves its intended objective in Pakistan. Detailed income and expenditure data from Pakistan's Household Income and Expenditure Survey for 1987-88 are used to construct two income distributions - one containing the distribution of income which would have obtained if relevant forms of charity were not given, and one containing the distribution of income which obtains under a regime in which such charitable giving takes place. Atkinson-Kolm-Sen (AKS) ethical relative indices of income inequality are computed for Pakistan and each of its four provinces, for each of these two income distributions, and are compared over a range of parameter values. Evidence is found that zakat does redistribute from the better off to the worse-off, and so achieves some reduction in measured income inequality in Pakistan. Both intra-province and inter-province components of over-all inequality decline, though the amount of change is generally small. These conclusions are shown to be robust to a wide range of normative values the investigator may bring elect.