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The Covariance Structure of East and West German Incomes and its Implications for the Persistence of Poverty and Inequality

  • Martin Biewen

Based on data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (GSOEP), this paper analyzes the dynamics of equivalent income in East and West Germany in the years following reunification. Special emphasis is given to the separation of permanent and transitory components, the persistence of transitory shocks and their implications for the persistence of poverty and inequality. The results suggest that in West Germany, between 52 and 69 per cent of cross-sectional income inequality was permanent, and that poor individuals stayed in poverty for two years on average. In East Germany, the share of the permanent component in overall income inequality rose continuously from 20 per cent in 1990 to 72 per cent in 1998, reaching a level near the one that prevailed in West Germany during the same period. The rising importance of time-invariant components in East German incomes was also reflected in expected poverty durations which slightly increased from 1.47 years in 1990 to 1.67 years in 1998. Copyright Verein für Socialpolitik and Blackwell Publishing Ltd. 2005.

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Article provided by Verein für Socialpolitik in its journal German Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 6 (2005)
Issue (Month): 4 (November)
Pages: 445-469

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Handle: RePEc:bla:germec:v:6:y:2005:i:4:p:445-469
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  1. Biewen, Martin, 2002. "The Covariance Structure of East and West German Incomes and its Implications for the Persistence of Poverty and Inequality," IZA Discussion Papers 459, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Chamberlain, Gary, 1984. "Panel data," Handbook of Econometrics, in: Z. Griliches† & M. D. Intriligator (ed.), Handbook of Econometrics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 22, pages 1247-1318 Elsevier.
  3. Grabka, Markus M. & Schwarze, Johannes & Wagner, Gert G., 1999. "How Unification and Immigration Affected the German Income Distribution," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - German National Library of Economics, pages 867-878.
  4. Baker, Michael, 1997. "Growth-Rate Heterogeneity and the Covariance Structure of Life-Cycle Earnings," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(2), pages 338-75, April.
  5. Lee A. Lillard & Robert J. Willis, 1976. "Dynamic Aspects of Earnings Mobility," NBER Working Papers 0150, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. John M. Abowd & David Card, 1986. "On the Covariance Structure of Earnings and Hours Changes," NBER Working Papers 1832, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Ann Huff Stevens, 1999. "Climbing out of Poverty, Falling Back in: Measuring the Persistence of Poverty Over Multiple Spells," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 34(3), pages 557-588.
  8. Franz, Wolfgang & Steiner, Viktor, 1999. "Wages in the East German transition process: facts and explanations," ZEW Discussion Papers 99-40, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  9. M. Burda & C. Schmidt, 1997. "Getting Behind The East-West Wage Differential: Theory and Evidence," SFB 373 Discussion Papers 1997,77, Humboldt University of Berlin, Interdisciplinary Research Project 373: Quantification and Simulation of Economic Processes.
  10. Francesco Devicienti, 2001. "Estimating Poverty Persistence in Britain," 10th International Conference on Panel Data, Berlin, July 5-6, 2002 B2-3, International Conferences on Panel Data.
  11. Biewen, Martin, 2000. "Income Inequality in Germany during the 1980s and 1990s," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 46(1), pages 1-19, March.
  12. repec:ese:iserwp:2000-41 is not listed on IDEAS
  13. Martin Biewen, 2001. "Measuring the Effects of Socio-Economic Variables on the Income Distribution: An Application to the East German Transition Process," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(1), pages 185-190, February.
  14. repec:ese:iserwp:2001-15 is not listed on IDEAS
  15. MaCurdy, Thomas E., 1982. "The use of time series processes to model the error structure of earnings in a longitudinal data analysis," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 83-114, January.
  16. Lorenzo Cappellari, 2002. "The dynamics and inequality of Italian male earnings: permanent changes or transitory fluctuations?," 10th International Conference on Panel Data, Berlin, July 5-6, 2002 C2-2, International Conferences on Panel Data.
  17. Schluter, Christian, 1998. "Statistical inference with mobility indices," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 59(2), pages 157-162, May.
  18. Fouarge, Didier & Muffels, Ruud, 2000. "Persistent poverty in the Netherlands, Germany and the UK," MPRA Paper 13297, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  19. Dickens, Richard, 2000. "The Evolution of Individual Male Earnings in Great Britain: 1975-95," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(460), pages 27-49, January.
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