Cumulative (Dis) Advantage and the Matthew Effect in Life-Course Analysis
2015 (English)In: PLoS ONE, ISSN 1932-6203, E-ISSN 1932-6203, Vol. 10, no 11, e0142447Article in journal (Refereed) PublishedText
To foster a deeper understanding of the mechanisms behind inequality in society, it is crucial to work with well-defined concepts associated with such mechanisms. The aim of this paper is to define cumulative (dis) advantage and the Matthew effect. We argue that cumulative (dis) advantage is an intra-individual micro-level phenomenon, that the Matthew effect is an inter-individual macro-level phenomenon and that an appropriate measure of the Matthew effect focuses on the mechanism or dynamic process that generates inequality. The Matthew mechanism is, therefore, a better name for the phenomenon, where we provide a novel measure of the mechanism, including a proof-of-principle analysis using disposable personal income data. Finally, because socio-economic theory should be able to explain cumulative (dis) advantage and the Matthew mechanism when they are detected in data, we discuss the types of models that may explain the phenomena. We argue that interactions-based models in the literature traditions of analytical sociology and statistical mechanics serve this purpose.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 10, no 11, e0142447
Economics and Business Sociology
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-272276DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0142447ISI: 000365865300018OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-272276DiVA: diva2:895197
FunderSwedish Research CouncilWenner-Gren Foundations