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Imputed Rent and Income Inequality: A Decomposition Analysis for Great Britain, West Germany and the U.S


  • Joachim R. Frick
  • Markus M. Grabka


This article deals with income advantages derived from owner-occupied housing and their impact on the personal income distribution. Using micro-data from the British Household Panel Study (BHPS), the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP), and the U.S. Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) we find distinct cross-national differences in terms of the prevalence and extent of imputed rent. Results from inequality decomposition analyses show this overall impact to be the net effect of two conflicting changes: On the one hand there is increasing income inequality between the groups of owneroccupiers and renters, respectively, and, on the other hand, we find inequality to be decreasing within the group of those owner-occupiers who own outright. When focussing on imputed rent as a means of old-age provision, our results for all three countries show an income advantage for, as well as a poverty reducing effect among the elderly. The empirical findings support the claim for the need of an improved harmonization of this non-cash income component especially for the purpose of cross-national comparative research. Copyright 2003 Blackwell Publishing Ltd..

Suggested Citation

  • Joachim R. Frick & Markus M. Grabka, 2003. "Imputed Rent and Income Inequality: A Decomposition Analysis for Great Britain, West Germany and the U.S," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 49(4), pages 513-537, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:revinw:v:49:y:2003:i:4:p:513-537

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Prescott, Edward C., 1986. "Theory ahead of business-cycle measurement," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 11-44, January.
    2. Cochrane, John H, 1988. "How Big Is the Random Walk in GNP?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(5), pages 893-920, October.
    3. Andrew Harvey (ed.), 1994. "Time Series," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, volume 0, number 599.
    4. Dezhbakhsh, Hashem & Levy, Daniel, 1994. "Periodic properties of interpolated time series," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 44(3), pages 221-228.
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    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • R21 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Housing Demand


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