MEqIN - Measuring Equivalent Incomes


The MEqIn survey aims to capture multiple dimensions of well-being and their subjective importance for Belgian households. It allows for a broad range of analyses (e.g. equivalent incomes) and conclusions on poverty and inequality in Belgium, as the sample is representative.

General information

  • Data collection:
    • representative sample of Belgian population at household- and individual level
    • interviews at respondent’s domicile
    • drop-offs for children
    • one round of questions, between Feb 2016 and Aug 2016
  • Data set:
    • 3404 respondents (18+) in 2098 households
    • 618 drop-offs for children 
    • important modules: socio-demographics, health, work status, housing, consumption, stated WTP, life satisfaction, time use, income
    • 1548 variables, including constructed variables
  • Access:
    • available on request, see MEqIn website for further information
    • in Stata 13 format (.dta)

The MEqIn project

The involved research centres were CORE (UCL), FEB (KUL), ECARES (ULB) and the CSB. The project started in 2013 and ended in 2017, hence an end report and even a book have concluded the main findings. The book, which is available in Dutch (“Wat heet dan gelukkig zijn? Geluk, welvaart en welzijn van de Belgen”) , French (“En faut-il peu pour être heureux? Conditions de vie, bonheur et bien-être en Belgique”), and soon also in English, provides some summary statistics and argues that happiness and income are not good measures of well-being.

Papers and projects based on the MEqIn data cover a variety of topics, such as marriage markets, labour supply, child poverty, intra-household allocations of well-being, happiness, health care, and equivalent incomes. This illustrates the main idea behind the survey design: it covers many different life dimensions for a representative sample of the population. The inclusion of life satisfaction and willingness to pay questions renders three types of preference estimations possible, which is a novelty in Belgium. Similarities with other surveys are intended, as it allows researchers to compare the results and to validate the data.

At the end of the MEqIn project, a follow-up project has started, which is called “Individual Welfare Analysis based on Behavioural Economics” (IWABE). The initial plan was to conduct a second round of interviews with the same sample and additional modules revealing behavioural mechanisms, but it has not yet been (and might not be) realised. Instead, the richness of the existing data set is used to explore inconsistencies with standard models of preference.

Sources and further information
Capéau et al. (2018) Wat heet dan gelukkig zijn? Geluk, welvaart en welzijn van de Belgen; Garant-Uitgevers NV; Antwerpen - Apeldoorn.