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Measuring Income in Household Panel Surveys for Germany: A Comparison of EU-SILC and SOEP

  • Joachim R. Frick
  • Kristina Krell

Empirical analyses of economic inequality, poverty, and mobility in Germany are, to an increas-ing extent, using microdata from the German Federal Statistical Office's contribution to the European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC) as well as data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP). In addition to their significance for national reporting, the EU-SILC data are of great international significance for comparative EU-wide measurement, description, and analysis in support of the European Commission's stated objective of fighting poverty and reducing social inequality through the European social cohesion process. It is therefore crucial to assess the quality of the German contribution to EU-SILC, particularly in view of evidence in the literature of methodological problems in this still relatively young survey with respect to the representation of specific social groups and the distri-bution of key educational characteristics that can have a considerable impact on the degree and structure of inequality and poverty (see Hauser 2008, Causa et al. 2009, Nolan et al. 2009). While previous papers have critically examined the German EU-SILC contribution in comparison to the cross-sectional data from the German Survey of Income and Expenditure (EVS), the present paper compares EU-SILC-based results about income trends, inequality, and mobility with results based on SOEP, a widely used alternate panel survey of private households in Germany. The - in some cases severe - differences identified are discussed in the context of the surveying and interviewing methods, post-data-collection treatment of the micro-data as well as sample characteristics of the two studies, all of which exert a major influence on the substantive results and thus on the core findings regarding the social situation of Germany in EU-wide comparison.

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File URL: http://www.diw.de/documents/publikationen/73/diw_01.c.346496.de/diw_sp0265.pdf
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Paper provided by DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) in its series SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research with number 265.

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Length: 42 p.
Date of creation: 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:diw:diwsop:diw_sp265
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  1. Daniel H. Hill & Robert J. Willis, 2001. "Reducing Panel Attrition: A Search for Effective Policy Instruments," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 36(3), pages 416-438.
  2. Joachim R. Frick & Markus M. Grabka & Olaf Groh-Samberg, 2009. "The Impact of Home Production on Economic Inequality in Germany," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 159, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  3. Shorrocks, A F, 1978. "The Measurement of Mobility," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(5), pages 1013-24, September.
  4. Gert G. Wagner & Joachim R. Frick & Jürgen Schupp, 2007. "The German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP) – Scope, Evolution and Enhancements," Schmollers Jahrbuch : Journal of Applied Social Science Studies / Zeitschrift für Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, vol. 127(1), pages 139-169.
  5. Orsetta Causa & Sophie Dantan & Åsa Johansson, 2009. "Intergenerational Social Mobility in European OECD Countries," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 709, OECD Publishing.
  6. Riphahn, Regina T. & Serfling, Oliver, 2002. "Item Non-Response on Income and Wealth Questions," IZA Discussion Papers 573, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Joachim R. Frick & Markus M. Grabka, 2007. "Item Non-response and Imputation of Annual Labor Income in Panel Surveys from a Cross-National Perspective," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 49, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  8. Fields, Gary S. & Ok, Efe A., 1996. "The Meaning and Measurement of Income Mobility," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 349-377, November.
  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. Frick, Joachim R. & Goebel, Jan & Schechtman, Edna & Wagner, Gert G. & Yitzhaki, Shlomo, 2004. "Using Analysis of Gini (ANoGi) for Detecting Whether Two Sub-Samples Represent the Same Universe: The SOEP Experience," IZA Discussion Papers 1049, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  11. Richard Hauser, 2008. "Problems of the German Contribution to EU-SILC: A Research Perspective, Comparing EU-SILC, Microcensus and SOEP," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 86, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  12. Fields, Gary S & Ok, Efe A, 1999. "Measuring Movement of Incomes," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 66(264), pages 455-71, November.
  13. Shorrocks, Anthony, 1978. "Income inequality and income mobility," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 376-393, December.
  14. Brian Nolan & Gosta Esping-Andersen & Christopher T. Whelan & Bertrand Maitre, 2010. "The Role of Social Institutions in Inter-Generational Mobility," Working Papers 201018, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
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