Working Paper
Iran’s multi-ethnic mosaic

A 23-year perspective

In this study, we embark on measuring inequality in Iran, we compute three measures of group-based inequality (Group-weighted Coefficient of Variation, Group-weighted Gini, and Group-weighted Theil) for the following outcomes: education, assets, income, and expenditure per capita.

The groups are defined based on gender, ethnicity/language (Persian, Azeri, and other ethnic minorities), and region (urban versus rural and capital city versus other places) using 23 years of annual Household Expenditure and Income Surveys (HEIS) from 1990 through 2012. Inequality between groups based on religion (Muslim, non-Muslim), citizenship (Iranian, Non-Iranian) are also studied using the 2006 census.

Our analysis of the trend of horizontal inequality reveals substantial reduction in between-group inequalities over the 1990–2012 period. Yet, gender based income inequality remains high. The implications and underlying reasons for these results are discussed.