March 12, 2019 | News | Suessmilch Lecture

Equivalence scales and the distribution of household income: do we know what we´re doing?

On March 19, 2019, Martin Werding from the Ruhr-Universität Bochum gave a lecture about equivalence scales and the distribution of household income at the MPIDR.


Research on income inequality and poverty risks typically relies on equivalence scales to make income comparable across households that differ in their composition and size. The standard approach for doing so is based on the so-called “(modified) OECD scale”. It has become a quasi-standard in this strand of research in recent years, but neglects many sources of variation that are potentially important when assessing the material well-being of individuals living in different types of households. Specifically, empirical research suggests that income-dependent equivalence scales may be required for applied research on income inequality, especially if one is concerned with the composition, not just the size of the population at poverty risk.

About the speaker

Martin Werding was born in 1964. He studied Philosophy at the Munich School of Philosophy S.J. (B.A. 1986, M.A. 1989) and Economics at the University of Munich (LMU) and the University of Passau (Dipl. -Vw., equiv. M.A. in Economics, 1991). Until 1999, he worked as a Research Assistant (Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter)  and Lecturer (Wissenschaftlicher Assistent)  at the Chair in Economics and Social Policy and the Chair in Public Finance at the University of Passau. He completed his Dr.rer.pol. (equiv. Ph.D. in Economics) in 1997 based on a dissertation about the economic foundations of public pension schemes. He received his Habilitation and Venia legendi in 2008 for his work on "Fertility incentives and long-term sustainability of unfunded social insurance schemes". Between 1999 and 2008, Martin Werding worked with the Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich. Since 2000, he chaired Ifo's newly established Department of Social Policy and Labour Markets. He was also teaching Public Finance and Applied Economics at the University of Munich and the Munich Graduate School of Economics. In 2008, he was appointed as a full professor at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum, with a Chair in Social Policy and Public Finance. He is a member of the Department of Social Science and an affiliate member of the Department of Economics and Business Administration. Since 2013, he is a member of the Acdemy of Science and Literature, Mainz.

Time and Venue

Tuesday, March 19, 2019 at the institute's Auditorium


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The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock is one of the leading demographic research centers in the world. It's part of the Max Planck Society, the internationally renowned German research society.