Luxembourg data centre launches landmark book
A global income data centre based in Luxembourg celebrated its 30th anniversary on Wednesday with the launch of an important academic book on global income inequality.
Since it was founded in 1983, the Luxembourg Income Study (LIS) Database has served as a crucial tool for assessing income inequality, measuring poverty and researching policy impacts, among other things.
To mark 30 years in Luxembourg, the organisation held a seminar and launched a new book, Income Inequality – Economic Disparities and the Middle Class in Affluent Countries.
Edited by Professors Janet Gornick (City University New York) and Markus Jäntti (Stockholm University), both LIS directors, the book's contributions present comparative and empirical data on the middle class.
“Studies into middle class inequality are often dismissed as being motivated by things like envy. Inequality, however, is closely linked to economic growth. Those at the bottom enjoy a much slower rate of growth than those at the top,” Professor Jäntti said at the launch, adding: “We can say we don't care, it's the overall growth rate that counts. Any growth is OK. We're talking about 25 years during which on average income growth in Sweden was six times higher at the top than at the bottom. To deem this as envy would be very strange.”
Composed of work by leading scholars in the field of economic inequality, a panel gave an overview of some of the book's 17 chapters at the launch on Wednesday.
They addressed questions such as what is the outlook for the young middle class? Do middle class groups gain or lose from government redistribution? Is the political voice of the middle class related to government redistribution? What shapes attitudes toward redistributive preferences? And how do women's earnings affect income distribution?
The presentation was followed by a Q&A in which one audience member asked why the middle class was so vulnerable in financial crises and recession.
Responding Professor Louis Chauvel of Luxembourg University spoke of attrition and the increasing mobility of young educated people, particularly in the southern European states, who are now living in the UK, US or Luxembourg, for example, because they cannot find work in their home countries.
He said that by not taking into account these migratory trends, analysts are underestimating the level of inequality because “many poor but sometimes well educated people are living better in other countries.” He called for development of the LIS to better analyse the impact of the 2008 crisis.
The event was organised within the framework of the University of Luxembourg's Chair of the Programme of Excellence Award for Research in Luxembourg (PEARL). The Chair is led by Professors Louis Chauvel and Conchita D'Ambrosia of the University's Institute for Research on Socio-Economic Inequality.
Income Inequality is published by the Stanford University Press.
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