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Why has income inequality in Germany increased from 2002 to 2011? A behavioral microsimulation decomposition

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  • Jessen, Robin

Abstract

I propose a method to decompose changes in income inequality into the contributions of policy changes, wage rate changes, and population changes while considering labor supply reactions. Using data from the Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP), I apply this method to decompose the increase in income inequality in Germany from 2002 to 2011, a period that saw tax reductions and a controversial overhaul of the transfer system. The simulations show that tax and transfer reforms have had an inequality reducing effect as measured by the Mean Log Deviation and the Gini coefficient. For the Gini, these effects are offset by labor supply reactions. In contrast, policy changes explain part of the increase in the ratio between the 90th and the 50th income percentile. Changes in wage rates have led to a decrease in income inequality. Thus, the increase in inequality was mainly due to changes in the population.

Suggested Citation

  • Jessen, Robin, 2016. "Why has income inequality in Germany increased from 2002 to 2011? A behavioral microsimulation decomposition," Discussion Papers 2016/24, Free University Berlin, School of Business & Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:fubsbe:201624
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Olivier Bargain & Tim Callan, 2010. "Analysing the effects of tax-benefit reforms on income distribution: a decomposition approach," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 8(1), pages 1-21, March.
    2. John Creedy & Nicolas Hérault†, 2011. "Decomposing Inequality and Social Welfare Changes : The Use of Alternative Welfare Metrics," Department of Economics - Working Papers Series 1121, The University of Melbourne.
    3. Robin Jessen & Davud Rostam-Afschar & Viktor Steiner, 2017. "Getting the Poor to Work: Three Welfare-Increasing Reforms for a Busy Germany," FinanzArchiv: Public Finance Analysis, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 73(1), pages 1-41, March.
    4. Olivier Bargain & Tim Callan & Karina Doorley & Claire Keane, 2017. "Changes in Income Distributions and the Role of Tax‐Benefit Policy During the Great Recession: An International Perspective," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 38, pages 559-585, December.
    5. Mike Brewer & Liam Wren-Lewis, 2016. "Accounting for Changes in Income Inequality: Decomposition Analyses for the UK, 1978–2008," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 78(3), pages 289-322, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Martin Biewen & Martin Ungerer & Max Löffler, 2019. "Why Did Income Inequality in Germany Not Increase Further After 2005?," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 20(4), pages 471-504, November.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Inequality; Decomposition; Labor Supply; Microsimulation; Policy Reform;

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials

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