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Representative Wealth Data for Germany from the German SOEP: The Impact of Methodological Decisions around Imputation and the Choice of the Aggregation Unit

Author

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  • Joachim R. Frick
  • Markus M. Grabka
  • Eva M. Sierminska

Abstract

The definition and operationalization of wealth information in population surveys and the corresponding microdata requires a wide range of more or less normative assumptions. However, the decisions made in both the pre- and post-data-collection stage may interfere consid-erably with the substantive research question. Looking at wealth data from the German SOEP, this paper focuses on the impact of collecting information at the individual rather than house-hold level, and on "imputation and editing" as a means of dealing with measurement error. First, we assess how the choice of unit of aggregation or unit of analysis affects wealth distri-bution and inequality analysis. Obviously, when measured in "per capita household" terms, wealth is less unequally distributed than at the individual level. This is the result of significant redistribution within households, and also provides evidence of a significant persisting gender wealth gap. Secondly, we find multiple imputation to be an effective means of coping with selective non-response. There is a significant impact of imputation on the share of wealth holders (increas-ing on average by 15%) and also on aggregate wealth (plus 30%). However, with respect to inequality, the results are ambiguous. Looking at the major outcome variable for the whole population-net worth-the Gini coefficient decreases, whereas a top-sensitive measure dou-bles. The non-random selectivity built into the missing process and the consideration of this selectivity in the imputation process clearly contribute to this finding. Obviously, the treatment of measurement errors after data collection, especially with respect to the imputation of missing values, affects cross-national comparability and thus may require some cross-national harmonization of the imputation strategies applied to the various national datasets.

Suggested Citation

  • Joachim R. Frick & Markus M. Grabka & Eva M. Sierminska, 2007. "Representative Wealth Data for Germany from the German SOEP: The Impact of Methodological Decisions around Imputation and the Choice of the Aggregation Unit," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 672, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:diw:diwwpp:dp672
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Heckman, James, 2013. "Sample selection bias as a specification error," Applied Econometrics, Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", vol. 31(3), pages 129-137.
    2. René Böheim & Stephen P. Jenkins, 2000. "Do Current Income and Annual Income Measures Provide Different Pictures of Britain's Income Distribution?," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 214, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
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    Cited by:

    1. GRABKA Markus & MARCUS Jan & SIERMINSKA Eva, 2013. "Wealth distribution within couples and financial decision making," LISER Working Paper Series 2013-02, LISER.
    2. Ziebarth, Nicolas R. & Frick, Joachim R., 2010. "Revisiting the Income-Health Nexus: The Importance of Choosing the "Right" Indicator," IZA Discussion Papers 4787, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. James B. Davies & Susanna Sandström & Anthony Shorrocks & Edward N. Wolff, 2011. "The Level and Distribution of Global Household Wealth," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 121(551), pages 223-254, March.
    4. Sierminska, Eva M. & Frick, Joachim R. & Grabka, Markus M., 2010. "Examining the gender wealth gap," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - German National Library of Economics, pages 669-690.
    5. Joachim R. Frick & Markus M. Grabka & Jan Marcus, 2007. "Editing and Multiple Imputation of Item-Non-Response in the 2002 Wealth Module of the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP)," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 18, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    6. Grabka, Markus M. & Marcus, Jan & Sierminska, Eva, 2015. "Wealth Distribution within Couples," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - German National Library of Economics, pages 459-486.
    7. Sierminska, Eva & Frick, Joachim R. & Grabka, Markus M., 2008. "Examining the Gender Wealth Gap in Germany," IZA Discussion Papers 3573, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. Joachim Frick & Nicolas Ziebarth, 2013. "Welfare-related health inequality: does the choice of measure matter?," The European Journal of Health Economics, Springer;Deutsche Gesellschaft für Gesundheitsökonomie (DGGÖ), vol. 14(3), pages 431-442, June.
    9. repec:zbw:rwirep:0258 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Matthias Keese, 2011. "Thrifty Wives and Lavish Husbands? – Bargaining Power and Financial Dicisions in Germany," Ruhr Economic Papers 0258, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen.
    11. Sachverständigenrat zur Begutachtung der Gesamtwirtschaftlichen Entwicklung (ed.), 2007. "Das Erreichte nicht verspielen. Jahresgutachten 2007/08," Annual Economic Reports / Jahresgutachten, German Council of Economic Experts / Sachverständigenrat zur Begutachtung der gesamtwirtschaftlichen Entwicklung, volume 127, number 200708.
    12. Lorenz, Hanno & Christl, Michael, 2015. "Armut, Ungleichheit & Verteilung," EconStor Books, ZBW - German National Library of Economics, number 119606.
    13. S. Anger & J. R. Frick & J. Goebel & M. M. Grabka & O. Groh-Samberg & H. Haas & E. Holst & P. Krause & M. Kroh & H. Lohmann & R. Pischner & J. Schupp & I. Sieber & T. Siedler & C. Schmitt & C. K. Spie, 2008. "Zur Weiterentwicklung von SOEPsurvey und SOEPservice," Vierteljahrshefte zur Wirtschaftsforschung / Quarterly Journal of Economic Research, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 77(3), pages 157-177.
    14. Keese, Matthias, 2011. "Thrifty Wives and Lavish Husbands? – Bargaining Power and Financial Dicisions in Germany," Ruhr Economic Papers 258, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
    15. Julia Groiß & Alsyssa Schneebaum & Barbara Schuster, 2017. "Vermögensunterschiede nach Geschlecht in Österreich und Deutschland: Eine Analyse auf der Personenebene," Working Paper Reihe der AK Wien - Materialien zu Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft 168, Kammer für Arbeiter und Angestellte für Wien, Abteilung Wirtschaftswissenschaft und Statistik.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Wealth; Item non-response; multiple imputation; SOEP;

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • C81 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Methodology for Collecting, Estimating, and Organizing Microeconomic Data; Data Access
    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty

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