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Income and Wealth Inequality after the Financial Crisis: The Case of Germany

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  • Grabka, Markus M.

Abstract

The topic of rising income inequality does not only gain in relevance since the two prominent reports by the OECD (Growing unequal? Income Distribution and Poverty in OECD Countries, Paris 2008; Divided we stand—Why inequality keeps rising, Paris 2011) but rather since the financial crisis. So far there is only scarce empirical evidence–besides a rather broad literature dealing with the US–about the consequences of the financial crisis on income inequality in Europe (e.g. Jenkins et al. in The Great Recession and the distribution of household income, Oxford University Press, Oxford 2013) and more important about wealth inequality (Lundberg and Waldenström in Paper presented at the 4. SEEK conference, Mannheim 2014). In this paper we focus on the short-term distributional effects in Germany, as this country was one of the OECD countries which had been hit hardest—as measured by a decline in GDP—by the Great Recession in 2008/2009. The underlying data source comes from the German Socio Economic Panel which is a representative longitudinal survey of private households in Germany. This survey provides consistent yearly information about incomes since 1984 and for wealth in at least three survey years. Thus, we are able to identify any potential effects of the financial crisis on incomes (e.g. earnings, market income, post-government income) and wealth components (e.g. property, business assets, financial assets, net worth) and their respective inequality in Germany. Our main finding is that we do not find any significant distributional changes during the Great Recession. However, the Great Recession temporary froze the income structure while afterwards income mobility tries to make up leeway. Findings of a factor decomposition showed as expected that the relative contribution of capital income to overall inequality lost in relevance during the Great recession. Several factors attenuated the impact of the Great Recession and will be discussed in detail.

Suggested Citation

  • Grabka, Markus M., 2015. "Income and Wealth Inequality after the Financial Crisis: The Case of Germany," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, pages 371-390.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:espost:140880
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Timm Bönke & Carsten Schröder, 2014. "European-Wide Inequality in Times of the Financial Crisis," Journal of Income Distribution, Ad libros publications inc., vol. 23(3), pages 7-34, November.
    2. Kai Daniel Schmid & Andreas Peichl & Moritz Drechsel-Grau, 2015. "Querverteilung und Spitzeneinkommen in Deutschland," IMK Report 108-2015, IMK at the Hans Boeckler Foundation, Macroeconomic Policy Institute.
    3. Kai Daniel Schmid & Andreas Peichl & Moritz Drechsel-Grau, 2015. "Factor shares, personal income distribution and top incomes in Germany," IMK Report 108e-2015, IMK at the Hans Boeckler Foundation, Macroeconomic Policy Institute.
    4. Heinrichs, Katrin, 2016. "German Consumption Inequality. An evaluation with a focus on the financial crisis," Annual Conference 2016 (Augsburg): Demographic Change 145891, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    5. Lundberg, Jacob & Waldenström, Daniel, 2016. "Wealth Inequality in Sweden: What Can We Learn from Capitalized Income Tax Data?," Working Paper Series 1131, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
    6. Dietz, Daniel & Zwick, Thomas, 2018. "Training in the Great Recession: Evidence from an individual perspective," ZEW Discussion Papers 18-037, ZEW - Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research.
    7. Michele Battisti & Gabriel Felbermayr & Sybille Lehwald, 2016. "Inequality in Germany: Myths, Facts, and Policy Implications," ifo Working Paper Series 217, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich.
    8. Lundberg, Jacob & Waldenström, Daniel, 2016. "Wealth inequality in Sweden: What can we learn from capitalized income tax data?," CEPR Discussion Papers 11246, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    9. Lundberg, Jacob & Waldenström, Daniel, 2016. "Wealth Inequality in Sweden: What Can We Learn from Capitalized Income Tax Data?," IZA Discussion Papers 9902, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    income inequality; wealth inequality; financial crisis; SOEP;

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty

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