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Representative Wealth Data for Germany from the German SOEP: The Impact of Methodological Decisions around Imputation and the Choice of the Aggregation Unit

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  • Joachim R. Frick
  • Markus M. Grabka
  • Eva M. Sierminska

Abstract

The definition and operationalization of wealth information in population surveys and the corresponding microdata requires a wide range of more or less normative assumptions. However, the decisions made in both the pre- and post-data-collection stage may interfere consid-erably with the substantive research question. Looking at wealth data from the German SOEP, this paper focuses on the impact of collecting information at the individual rather than house-hold level, and on "imputation and editing" as a means of dealing with measurement error. First, we assess how the choice of unit of aggregation or unit of analysis affects wealth distri-bution and inequality analysis. Obviously, when measured in "per capita household" terms, wealth is less unequally distributed than at the individual level. This is the result of significant redistribution within households, and also provides evidence of a significant persisting gender wealth gap. Secondly, we find multiple imputation to be an effective means of coping with selective non-response. There is a significant impact of imputation on the share of wealth holders (increas-ing on average by 15%) and also on aggregate wealth (plus 30%). However, with respect to inequality, the results are ambiguous. Looking at the major outcome variable for the whole population-net worth-the Gini coefficient decreases, whereas a top-sensitive measure dou-bles. The non-random selectivity built into the missing process and the consideration of this selectivity in the imputation process clearly contribute to this finding. Obviously, the treatment of measurement errors after data collection, especially with respect to the imputation of missing values, affects cross-national comparability and thus may require some cross-national harmonization of the imputation strategies applied to the various national datasets.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research in its series Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin with number 672.

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Length: 38 p.
Date of creation: 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:diw:diwwpp:dp672

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Keywords: Wealth; Item non-response; multiple imputation; SOEP;

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References

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  1. repec:ese:iserwp:2000-16 is not listed on IDEAS
  2. Heckman, James, 2013. "Sample selection bias as a specification error," Applied Econometrics, Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", vol. 31(3), pages 129-137.
  3. René Böheim & Stephen P. Jenkins, 2000. "Do Current Income and Annual Income Measures Provide Different Pictures of Britain's Income Distribution?," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 214, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
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Cited by:
  1. Eva M. Sierminska & Joachim R. Frick & Markus M. Grabka, 2010. "Examining the gender wealth gap," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 62(4), pages 669-690, October.
  2. Sachverständigenrat zur Begutachtung der Gesamtwirtschaftlichen Entwicklung (ed.), 2007. "Das Erreichte nicht verspielen. Jahresgutachten 2007/08," Annual Economic Reports / Jahresgutachten, German Council of Economic Experts / Sachverständigenrat zur Begutachtung der gesamtwirtschaftlichen Entwicklung, volume 127, number 200708.
  3. Grabka, Markus M. & Marcus, Jan & Sierminska, Eva, 2013. "Wealth Distribution within Couples," IZA Discussion Papers 7637, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. GRABKA Markus & MARCUS Jan & SIERMINSKA Eva, 2013. "Wealth distribution within couples and financial decision making," CEPS/INSTEAD Working Paper Series 2013-02, CEPS/INSTEAD.
  5. James B. Davies & Susanna Sandstrom & Anthony Shorrocks & Edward N. Wolff, 2009. "The Level and Distribution of Global Household Wealth," University of Western Ontario, Economic Policy Research Institute Working Papers 20091, University of Western Ontario, Economic Policy Research Institute.
  6. Nicolas R. Ziebarth & Joachim R. Frick, 2010. "Revisiting the Income-Health Nexus: The Importance of Choosing the "Right" Indicator," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 274, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  7. Joachim R. Frick & Markus M. Grabka & Jan Marcus, 2007. "Editing and Multiple Imputation of Item-Non-Response in the 2002 Wealth Module of the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP)," Data Documentation 18, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  8. Eva M. Sierminska & Joachim R. Frick & Markus M. Grabka, 2008. "Examining the Gender Wealth Gap in Germany," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 806, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.

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