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How has the middle been faring in rich countries?

Friday 4 May 2018
Academy Building
Rapenburg 73
2311 GJ Leiden

On Friday 4 May Dr. Stefan Thewissen will give the next seminar of the Reform of Social Legislation Speaker Series in the Faculty Room of the Academy Building from 11.00-12.30h.

Stefan Thewissen is both a policy analyst and applied economist. He obtained his PhD in Economics at Leiden University. Thereafter he worked as a Research Fellow at the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) in London, was a postdoctoral research fellow at Nuffield College, University of Oxford, and consulted as a policy advisor for the World Bank and OECD.

How has the middle been faring in rich countries?

First, using data for 27 OECD countries, we show that income of a ‘typical’ household as measured in household surveys has not grown in tandem with GDP per capita. The size of this divergence varies substantially, with the USA as a clear outlier. The paper distinguishes a number of factors contributing to such a divergence. Shrinking household sizes and prices rising faster for consumers than for producers are found to be generally more important factors than rising inequality. Second, we zoom in on the Netherlands, combining administrative income data with labour force survey information for the last decade. We find stagnant incomes for the entire population, lagging well behind economic growth. We then show that this pattern of income stability masks strong compositional changes. These findings have serious implications for the monitoring and assessment of changes in household incomes and living standards over time.

Read more about previous and upcoming seminars

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