In order to make a contribution to important issues of economic, ecological and social inequality as well as the interdependences between the economy and society, we identify five core topics, which will require intensive research in the near future.
Income and WealthOur research efforts analyze income and wealth as well as their distributions in as many dimensions as possible.
The distribution of income and wealth is one of the main research interests of the institute. Our research efforts analyze income and wealth as well as their inequality in as many dimensions as possible. Even though the availability of data in this respect is limited in Austria, our current research offers substantial insight into the distribution and the structure of these factors.
In order to gain expertise concerning a wide variety of datasets, the research conducted at the institute uses various sources of data, e.g. the micro census, the Austrian statistics with respect to wages and salaries, EU-SILC, the Household Finance and Consumption Survey of the ECB and the Survey of Consumer Finances of the Federal Reserve.
Based on this foundation, our researchers consider several scientific issues such as the long-term development of the Austrian income structure within a time-frame going back to the monarchy; the socio-economic structure of wealth, effects of inheritance taxes or the distribution of capital income. Results from our research are being used regularly in the media, secondary studies and the decision-making process concerning economic policy.
Inequality and SocietyTopics with respect to economic, ecological and social inequality must always be analyzed simultaneously with their feedback effects on society itself.
Issues of distribution must always be seen jointly with their repercussions on society. Among other topics, the institute’s research deals with the influence of different distributions of various socio-economic variables on gender inequality, educational possibilities and social participation.
Recent studies show that accumulation and access to wealth are crucially dependent on gender. Therefore, we analyze the gender-pay-gap due to different labor-market conceptions across European countries and how unpaid labor within the household is distributed, its development and how it depends on social status. Furthermore, research concerning educational inequality and its socio-economic, as well as geographical distribution needs to be conducted, which includes intergenerational aspects.
A main focus in this case is the transfer of inequalities across generations; a central link hereby is inheritance of income and educational possibilities as well as inheritance of wealth.
Regional InequalityA crucial aspect of inequality is its geographic distribution.
A crucial aspect of inequality is its geographic distribution. Previously, it was not possible, to research this dimension, since – especially in Austria – appropriate data was not available. Geographical inequality presents itself in various forms: both income and wealth, but also education, health and in general access to public service are affected.
Current projects of the institute consider the spatial distribution of different forms of inequality and identify the social consequences of these developments. Register based data in the form of payroll tax records enables us for the first time to analyze the geographical concentration of income inequality and which dynamics exist between cities and rural areas in this respect. Furthermore, research questions such as the connection between income inequality and suicide rates (in cooperation with MedUni Vienna) or the nexus between a simultaneous increase of non-voters and inequality (SORA, Stadt Wien) are important topics.
Recent results can be obtained at http://taxsim.wu.ac.at/atineq
Ecological InequalityInternational studies show extremely pronounced inequality concerning the access to ecological quality in various industries and developing countries.
International studies show inequality concerning the access to environmental quality in various industries and developing countries. At the same time, income inequality and ecological inequality reinforce themselves. Deficits in regard to the research process of these questions can be identified in Austria and Europa, even though inequality issues of environmental policy gain importance.
Central aspects can be characterized as the distribution of ecological quality in Austria; in order to obtain results on municipal level, various Austrian pollution databases are being used. Furthermore, the distribution of industrial pollution in Europe will be an important subject, explored on the foundation of corporate data from the European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register.
Last but not least, essential aspects are distributional consequences of European environmental policies; the scope of distributional effects will be broadened beyond previous studies, which focused on income effects on households through increases of prices or taxes.
Taxes and Welfare StateThe interaction between markets and the state in general is an important factor with respect to inequality of resources and opportunity within countries.
The interaction between markets and the state in general is an important factor in regard to inequality of resources and opportunity within countries. The form of intervention from the government in terms of the change of market outcomes depends on societal concepts concerning cohabitation. In order to identify these preferences, research conducted on the subject of inequality must result in facts and figures describing the status quo. At the same time, effects of increased or decreased taxes and duties or the implementation of new legal conditions are being analyzed.
Micro-simulation models are used in order to estimate the impact of various governmental actions on different individuals (for instance citizens, businesses, NPOs) and to obtain information concerning financing and distributional effects.
At the institute “Economics of Inequality” we use two independently developed tax-simulation models that analyze changes in income tax tariffs on the one hand and consequences of inheritance taxes on the other.