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Multidimensional Well-Being at the Top: Evidence for Germany

  • Peichl, Andreas


    (ZEW Mannheim)

  • Pestel, Nico



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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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 6170.

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Length: 20 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6170
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  1. Andreas Peichl & Thilo Schaefer & Christoph Scheicher, 2010. "Measuring Richness And Poverty: A Micro Data Application To Europe And Germany," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 56(3), pages 597-619, 09.
  2. Andreas Peichl & Nico Pestel, 2011. "Multidimensional affluence: Theory and applications to Germany and the US," Working Papers 218, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.
  3. Blanchflower, David G; Oswald, Andrew, 2011. "International Happiness," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 39, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
  4. Humberto Llavador & John E. Roemer & Joaquim Silvestre, 2015. "A Dynamic Analysis of Human Welfare in a Warming Planet," Working Papers 358, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  5. Koen DECANCQ & María Ana LUGO, 2010. "Weights in multidimensional indices of well-being: an overview," Center for Economic Studies - Discussion papers ces10.06, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Centrum voor Economische Studiën.
  6. Andreas Peichl & Nico Pestel, 2010. "Multidimensional Measurement of Richness: Theory and an Application to Germany," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 295, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  7. K. Decancq & L. Van Ootegem & E. Verhofstadt, 2011. "What If We Voted On The Weights Of A Multidimensional Well-Being Index? An Illustration With Flemish Data," Working Papers of Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent University, Belgium 11/762, Ghent University, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration.
  8. repec:ecl:ucdeco:09-5 is not listed on IDEAS
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. Alkire, Sabina & Foster, James, 2011. "Counting and multidimensional poverty measurement," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(7-8), pages 476-487, August.
  12. Joachim R. Frick & Jan Goebel & Markus M. Grabka & Olaf Groh-Samberg & Gert G. Wagner, 2007. "Zur Erfassung von Einkommen und Vermögen in Haushaltssurveys: Hocheinkommensstichprobe und Vermögensbilanz im SOEP," Data Documentation 19, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  13. Anthony B. Atkinson & Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez, 2009. "Top Incomes in the Long Run of History," NBER Working Papers 15408, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Sabina Alkire & James Foster, 2011. "Understandings and misunderstandings of multidimensional poverty measurement," Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer, vol. 9(2), pages 289-314, June.
  15. Bourguignon, F. & Chakravarty, S.R., 1998. "The Measurement of Multidimensional Poverty," DELTA Working Papers 98-12, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
  16. Foster, James & Greer, Joel & Thorbecke, Erik, 1984. "A Class of Decomposable Poverty Measures," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(3), pages 761-66, May.
  17. 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.
  18. Paul Anand & Cristina Santos & Ron Smith, 2007. "The measurement of capabilities," Open Discussion Papers in Economics 67, The Open University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Economics.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. A. Atkinson, 2003. "Multidimensional Deprivation: Contrasting Social Welfare and Counting Approaches," Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 51-65, April.
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