Arbeitspapiere des EVS-Projekts Personelle Einkommensverteilung in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland
The development of the income distribution in the Federal Republic of Germany during the seventies and eighties
- Revised version of a paper presented at the Conference "The Distribution of Economic Well-Being in the 1980s - an International Perspective", June 21 - 23, 1993, in Fiskebäckskil, Sweden. This paper sketches changes in the distribution of well-being during the period from 1972 to 1991 against the background of West Germany's economic and demographic development, and compares the distribution of well-being in East Germany before and after reunification. We rely on equivalent income of persons as the main indicator to measure well-being, but we also look at the distribution of gross wage income of workers and employees. Estimates of the Federal Statistical Office referring to the mesolevel of average equivalent income of socio-economic groups as well as various distributional measures computed by us at the micro-level are used to gauge changes of the distribution. The computations are based on two sets of micro-data available to us, the official Income and Consumption Surveys (1973, 1978 and 1983), and the German Socio-economic Panel (1983 to 1990 for West Germany, 1990, 1991 for East Germany). At the meso-level we find substantial changes in the relative welfare positions of the ten socio-economic groups distinguished, but a nearly constant ranking of the groups during the whole period under review. At the micro-level our computations indicate slight increases in the inequality of gross earnings during both decades. The distribution of well-being as measured by equivalent income of persons seems also to have become slightly more unequal during the whole period but the changes are very small, and partly reversed during subperiods. A decomposition of overall inequality by occupational status of the heads of household using the Theil measure shows that more than 80 percent of overall inequality is due to within-group inequality with rising tendency. This result is mitigated a little when dis aggregating the heterogeneous group of not gainfully employed with regard to the main income source of the household.