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Multidimensional Well-Being at the Top: Evidence for Germany

  • Andreas Peichl
  • Nico Pestel

This paper employs a multidimensional approach for the measurement of well-being at the top of the distribution using German SOEP micro data. Besides income as traditional indicator for material well-being, we include health as a proxy for nonmaterial quality of life as well as self-reported satisfaction with life as dimensions. We find that one third of the German population is well-off in at least one dimension but only one percent in all three dimensions simultaneously. While the distribution of income has become more concentrated at the top, the concentration at the top of the multidimensional well-being distribution has decreased over time. Moreover, health as well as life satisfaction contribute quite substantially to multidimensional wellbeing at the top which has important policy implications.

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File URL: http://www.diw.de/documents/publikationen/73/diw_01.c.391263.de/diw_sp0425.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 425.

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Length: 17 p.
Date of creation: 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:diw:diwsop:diw_sp425
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Web page: http://www.diw.de/en/soepEmail:


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  1. Humberto Llavador & John E. Roemer & Joaquim Silvestre, 2008. "A Dynamic Analysis of Human Welfare in a Warming Planet," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1673, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  2. Joachim R. Frick & Jan Goebel & Markus M. Grabka & Olaf Groh-Sambeg & Gert G. Wagner, 2007. "Zur Erfassung von Einkommen und Vermögen in Haushaltssurveys: Hocheinkommensstichprobe und Vermögensbilanz im SOEP," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 19, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  3. 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.
  4. DECANCQ, Koen & LUGO, Maria Ana, . "Weights in multidimensional indices of wellbeing: an overview," CORE Discussion Papers RP -2493, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  5. Thomas Piketty, 2005. "Top Income Shares in the Long Run: An Overview," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(2-3), pages 382-392, 04/05.
  6. Foster, James & Greer, Joel & Thorbecke, Erik, 1984. "A Class of Decomposable Poverty Measures," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(3), pages 761-66, May.
  7. François Bourguignon & Satya Chakravarty, 2003. "The Measurement of Multidimensional Poverty," Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 25-49, April.
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  9. Anand, Paul & van Hees, Martin, 2006. "Capabilities and achievements: An empirical study," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 35(2), pages 268-284, April.
  10. Andreas Peichl & Nico Pestel, 2013. "Multidimensional affluence: theory and applications to Germany and the US," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 45(32), pages 4591-4601, November.
  11. Stefan Bach & Giacomo Corneo & Viktor Steiner, 2009. "From Bottom To Top: The Entire Income Distribution In Germany, 1992-2003," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 55(2), pages 303-330, 06.
  12. Koen Decancq & María Ana Lugo, 2012. "Inequality of Wellbeing: A Multidimensional Approach," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 79(316), pages 721-746, October.
  13. Sabina Alkire and James Foster, 2011. "Understandings and Misunderstandings of Multidimensional Poverty Measurement," OPHI Working Papers ophiwp043, Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford.
  14. A. Atkinson, 2003. "Multidimensional Deprivation: Contrasting Social Welfare and Counting Approaches," Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 51-65, April.
  15. Alkire, Sabina & Foster, James, 2011. "Counting and multidimensional poverty measurement," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(7), pages 476-487.
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  17. Koen Decancq & Luc Van Ootegem & Elsy Verhofstadt, 2011. "What if we voted on the weights of a multidimensional well-being index? An illustration with Flemish data," Working Papers 1110, Herman Deleeck Centre for Social Policy, University of Antwerp.
  18. Peichl, Andreas & Pestel, Nico, 2010. "Multidimensional Measurement of Richness: Theory and an Application to Germany," IZA Discussion Papers 4825, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  19. Markus M. Grabka, 2009. "Codebook for the $PEQUIV File 1984-2008: CNEF Variables with Extended Income Information for the SOEP," Data Documentation 45, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  20. repec:ecl:ucdeco:09-5 is not listed on IDEAS
  21. Peichl, Andreas & Schaefer, Thilo & Scheicher, Christoph, 2008. "Measuring Richness and Poverty: A Micro Data Application to Europe and Germany," IZA Discussion Papers 3790, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  22. Anthony B. Atkinson & Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez, 2011. "Top Incomes in the Long Run of History," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 49(1), pages 3-71, March.
  23. Matthias Nübling & Hanfried H. Andersen & Axel Mühlbacher & Jürgen Schupp & Gert G. Wagner, 2007. "Computation of Standard Values for Physical and Mental Health Scale Scores Using the SOEP Version of SF12v2," Schmollers Jahrbuch : Journal of Applied Social Science Studies / Zeitschrift für Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, vol. 127(1), pages 171-182.
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