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Does Size Matter? The Impact of Changes in Household Structure on Income Distribution in Germany

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  • Andreas Peichl
  • Nico Pestel
  • Hilmar Schneider

Abstract

In Germany, two observations can be made over the past 20 years: First, income inequality has been constantly increasing while, second, the average household size has been declining dramatically. The analysis of income distribution relies on equivalence-weighted incomes which take into account household size. Therefore, there is an obvious link between these two developments. The aim of the paper is to quantify how the trend towards smaller households has influenced the change in income distribution. In order to do so, we are using a decomposition of changes in inequality measures over time allowing for a separation between wage and demographic effects respectively. We propose similar decompositions for the change in poverty and richness as well and compare them with results that were obtained by a re-weighting procedure. Our results show that the income gap would also have increased without the demographic trend. But its level would be lower than it actually is. In addition, the demographic effect turns out to be larger for incomes before tax and benefits.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) in its series SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research with number 280.

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Length: 37 p.
Date of creation: 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:diw:diwsop:diw_sp280

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Keywords: income distribution; demography; household size; decomposition; Germany;

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References

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  1. Olympia Bover, 2010. "Wealth Inequality And Household Structure: U.S. Vs. Spain," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 56(2), pages 259-290, 06.
  2. Olivier Bargain & Tim Callan, 2007. "Analysing the Effects of Tax-benefit Reforms on Income Distribution - A Decomposition Approach," Working Papers 200713, School Of Economics, University College Dublin.
  3. Jenkins, Stephen P. & Van Kerm, Philippe, 2004. "Accounting for Income Distribution Trends: A Density Function Decomposition Approach," IZA Discussion Papers 1141, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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  8. Joachim R. Frick & Jan Goebel, 2005. "Regional Income Stratification in Unified Germany Using a Gini Decomposition Approach," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 540, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  9. Foster, James & Greer, Joel & Thorbecke, Erik, 1984. "A Class of Decomposable Poverty Measures," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(3), pages 761-66, May.
  10. Thomas Lemieux, 2006. "Increasing Residual Wage Inequality: Composition Effects, Noisy Data, or Rising Demand for Skill?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(3), pages 461-498, June.
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  12. Sen, Amartya K, 1976. "Poverty: An Ordinal Approach to Measurement," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 44(2), pages 219-31, March.
  13. Mookherjee, Dilip & Shorrocks, Anthony F, 1982. "A Decomposition Analysis of the Trend in UK Income Inequality," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 92(368), pages 886-902, December.
  14. Shorrocks, A F, 1980. "The Class of Additively Decomposable Inequality Measures," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(3), pages 613-25, April.
  15. Jenkins, Stephen P, 1995. "Accounting for Inequality Trends: Decomposition Analyses for the UK, 1971-86," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 62(245), pages 29-63, February.
  16. Peichl, Andreas & Schaefer, Thilo & Scheicher, Christoph, 2006. "Measuring Richness and Poverty," FiFo Discussion Papers - Finanzwissenschaftliche Diskussionsbeiträge 06-11, University of Cologne, FiFo Institute for Public Economics.
  17. Stefan Bach & Giacomo Corneo & Viktor Steiner, 2009. "From Bottom To Top: The Entire Income Distribution In Germany, 1992-2003," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 55(2), pages 303-330, 06.
  18. Molly Martin, 2006. "Family structure and income inequality in families with children, 1976 to 2000," Demography, Springer, vol. 43(3), pages 421-445, August.
  19. Andreas Peichl, 2007. "Measuring richness," German Stata Users' Group Meetings 2007 06, Stata Users Group.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Jurgen Faik & Uwe Fachinger, 2013. "The decomposition of well-being categories: An application to Germany," Working Papers 307, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.
  2. Jürgen Faik, 2012. "Impacts of an Ageing Society on Macroeconomics and Income Inequality: The Case of Germany since the 1980s," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 518, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  3. Jan Goebel & Markus M. Grabka, 2011. "Entwicklung der Altersarmut in Deutschland," Vierteljahrshefte zur Wirtschaftsforschung / Quarterly Journal of Economic Research, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 80(2), pages 101-118.
  4. repec:nbp:journl:v:41:y:2010:i:3:p:5-34 is not listed on IDEAS
  5. Markus M. Grabka & Ursina Kuhn, 2012. "The Evolution of Income Inequality in Germany and Switzerland since the Turn of the Millennium," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 464, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  6. Peichl, Andreas & Pestel, Nico & Siegloch, Sebastian, 2012. "Ist Deutschland wirklich so progressiv? Einkommensumverteilung im europäischen Vergleich," IZA Standpunkte 53, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Judith Niehues & Andreas Peichl, 2011. "Lower and Upper Bounds of Unfair Inequality: Theory and Evidence for Germany and the US," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 395, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  8. KYZYMA Iryna, 2013. "Changes in the patterns of poverty duration in Germany, 1992-2009," CEPS/INSTEAD Working Paper Series 2013-06, CEPS/INSTEAD.
  9. Regina Flake, 2012. "Multigenerational Living Arrangements among Migrants," Ruhr Economic Papers 0366, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen.
  10. Peter Haan & Michal Myck, 2010. "Safety net still in transition: labour market incentive effects of social support in Poland and Germany," Bank i Kredyt, National Bank of Poland, Economic Institute, vol. 41(3), pages 5-34.

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