The Prospects and Limits of Wealth Reporting

Within the scope of the research project the IAW takes systematically stock of wealth reporting in Germany. Thereby the main focus is laid on quantitative studies and the measurement of income and wealth.

Furthermore a thorough underlying concept of wealth on the basis of Sen´s Capability approach is applied. The Capability approach offers an excellent framework to sound out the prospects and limits of wealth reporting due to its thorough theoretical foundation. Moreover, it enables the inclusion of further research questions such as research on elite and education or general questions of social layering in connection with wealth and income.

The stock-check in Germany is complemented by processing wealth reports of other developed economies with focus on Europe and North America. Starting from the present stock of wealth reporting existing gaps in research are outlined and refining proposals for wealth reporting are developed.

The research project is divided into the following four modules:

  • 1: Stock-taking of the present state of research with focus on Germany

For Germany there are a range of quantitative and qualitative studies at hand which were partly issued on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS). The objective of this module is a structured and thorough synopsis of all relevant research findings. By this synopsis a grid of criteria is to be developed by which the previous research focuses, research gaps and deficits can be identified.

  • 2: Outline of the present state of quantitative research in the area of income and wealth distribution

The second module focuses on the quantitative measurement of income and wealth. We thereby provide a systematic outline of both the current data and the arising possibilities of evaluation and the so far applied methods of quantitative collection and analysis of the upper part of income and wealth distribution.

  • 3: State of international wealth reporting

While the first two modules refer to wealth reporting in Germany the third module takes stock of respective research projects abroad. Thereby both accessible data sources, methods and procedures used in these studies are outlined. Therewith the research in Germany is being contrasted with the research in comparable countries by the systematics developed in module 1.

  • 4: Conclusion and Outlook

The last module outlines possible perspectives for further exploration of income and wealth in Germany. Present research gaps are identified especially due to the systematic preparation of previous research findings in Germany from the modules 1 and 2 and due to the contrasting with wealth reporting in other countries from module 3. Furthermore the possibilities to integrate or link new data sources is to be analysed. Finally we want to consider possible connections to related fields of research (for instance research on education and elites).


  • Auftraggeber: Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Bonn



Dr. Martin Rosemann


2010 - 2010