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Zakat and Inequality: Some Evidence from Pakistan, by Geoffrey A. Jehle (Nov. 1993)

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.

Published: Review of Income and Wealth, June 1994, 40(2): 205-16.