Research team

Herman Deleeck Centre for Social Policy

Expertise

- (Multidimensional) inequality, poverty and welfare measurement - Well-being measurement and respect for preferences - Multivariate dependence and the copula - Driving forces of changing income distributions - Successful aging and old-age well-being comparisons - Evaluation of redistributive and social policy

Advanced Center for inTernet Studies – Belgian Online Probability Panel. 01/01/2021 - 31/12/2022

Abstract

This project will design the Belgian Online Probability Panel, ACTS (Advanced Center for inTernet Studies – Belgian Online Probability Panel). The project is a collaboration between all Flemish and French speaking universities in Belgium.

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SHARE - Belgium, wave 9 - year 2 (SHARE-W9-II). 01/12/2020 - 30/11/2021

Abstract

This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand ESFRI. UA provides ESFRI research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

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Paradox or panacea? A critical assessment of the efficiency and equity of conditional cash transfer programmes in Latin America. 01/11/2020 - 31/10/2022

Abstract

Conditional cash transfer (CCT) programmes, which make welfare transfers conditional on human capital investment, have grown to dominate the social protection sector in Latin America since their introduction in the late 1990s. Positive evaluation results prompted the replication of early CCT programmes globally. However, little is known about the merit of key design elements of existing CCT programmes, which may have a substantial impact on their performance. Moreover, the programmes' de facto design and implementation can be argued to be inconsistent with the theoretical rationale of making transfers conditional, ultimately casting doubt on whether CCT programmes live up to their status of development panacea. This project seeks to address this gap in literature by examining how certain design features affect the equity and efficiency of Latin American CCT programmes. The proposal distinguishes four research phases. First, a child-centred wellbeing indicator is developed, which may be used for targeting or evaluation purposes of CCT programmes. Second, alternative targeting methods are explored to comment on the appropriateness of existing programmes to target income-poor households. Third, the project analyses whether conditionality of transfers leads to a lower take-up among vulnerable households. Finally, the net distributional impact of CCT programmes is estimated, taking the fiscal implications of non-contributory welfare programmes into consideration.

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Well-BOA: Development and application of a new survey instrument to measure well-being in old age. 01/01/2020 - 31/12/2023

Abstract

The rapid aging of our societies poses enormous policy challenges. To evaluate aging policies and measure well-being in old age, policy makers and researchers need an operational yardstick of well-being. Since well-being is a multidimensional notion, one needs to weight the outcomes in the different well-being dimensions. Existing well-being measures for older persons typically use a common weighting scheme for all individuals and are thereby neglecting differences in older persons' view on what is important in life. The first objective of this research project will be to develop a multidimensional well-being measure for older persons with respect for individual variation in opinions on the good life. Such a "preference-based" approach requires data about the view on the "good life". The second objective of this project will be to construct a survey instrument, called Well-BOA (Well-Being at Old Age), that allows us to obtain reliable information on the view on the "good life" of older persons in a simple and direct way. The survey instrument will be tested in a series of on-line survey experiments and implemented among a representative sample of the LISS panel and the SHARE survey. Finally, we aim to explore two ways in which the results can help to improve policies: first, by identifying the "worst-off" and, second, by providing a measurement toolbox that is sensitive to inequality of well-being among the older population.

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The paradox of Belgian Inequality studies: Belgium less unequal than others (BE-PARADIS). 15/12/2019 - 15/03/2024

Abstract

Inequality and poverty are high on the agenda of researchers, politicians, and international institutions, and fuel the public discussion at large. The IMF has labelled inequality as the 'defining challenge' of our time because it signals a lack of income mobility and opportunity, and because it has important consequences for growth and macroeconomic stability, and carries a risk of concentrating decision making in the hands of a few. In the last fifteen years also the OECD has gathered 'a significant body of evidence on the increased inequalities of income and opportunities in many countries', and concludes that inequality is 'bad and getting worse' (OECD 2018). In this proposal we start from two observations. First, and curiously enough, most existing statistics for Belgium tell a different story. Based on survey data, Horemans et al. (2011) and Van Rie and Marx (2014) conclude that the Belgian income inequality remained fairly stable between 1985 and the late 2000s. Also the OECD‐report cited above, reports a minor change in the Gini from 0.257 in 1983 to 0.264 in 2011, and even a slight decline since 2004. Similarly, Decoster et al. (2017) could not find evidence that the top incomes in Belgium have benefitted disproportionally from the economic growth since the nineties. Furthermore, the Belgian at‐risk‐of‐poverty rate has remained stable during the last decades. These findings not only stand in sharp contrast with the conclusions for many other countries; they also seem to contradict the widespread perception that inequality, poverty, material deprivation, and insecurity are on the rise. Understanding this 'paradox' is one of the central objectives of our project (and explains the project acronym). Second, Belgium remains notoriously absent from a rapidly expanding track in empirical research, which describes and analyses distributional information in a standard which emulates the framework of national accounts. This new standard is known as DIstributional National Accounts (DINA), and is essentially an extension of the methods proposed by Kuznets, who combined, in a pioneering effort, national income series (macro‐data) with income tax data (micro‐data). Recently, the upgrade of national accounts to incorporate distributional information has been initiated by the late Tony Before completing, please read carefully the instructions in the information file Call 2019 BRAIN‐be 2.0 Call 2019 'National thematic Project': BE‐PARADIS 2 Atkinson, and further developed by a scholars such as Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez. In early 2018, their team at the Paris School of Economics launched the World Wealth and Income Database, which gives access to data about inequality and other macroeconomic indicators for many countries. Unfortunately, Belgium is missing from this dataset. In this project we will investigate the paradox and bring Belgium to the frontier of international research on inequality by renewed, profound, and critical inquiry of existing and fresh data, concepts, and methods..

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Antwerp Interdisciplinary Platform for Research into Inequality: In search of equality. A socioeconomic examination within a global and historical framework (AIPRIL). 03/07/2019 - 31/12/2025

Abstract

This consortium proposal addresses the diverging fortunes of the rich, the poor and those in between. Our aim is to advance our understanding of how socioeconomic inequalities are changing, what is driving such trends and what, if anything, can be done. An undertaking of such ambition and complexity warrants an approach that combines state-of-the-art research from several disciplines. To that end, the current Methusalem grantee, the Centre for Social Policy Herman Deleeck, is joining forces with the Centre for Urban History and the Institute for Development Studies in the Antwerp Interdisciplinary Platform for Research into Inequality (AIPRIL) to continue and expand its work on the topic of socioeconomic inequality, enlarging the temporal and geographical scope this topic requires. We propose a seven year research program that seeks to make methodological, theoretical, and empirical advances in this rapidly evolving research field, building on insights from economics, sociology, economic history and development studies. The research program contains four strategically selected research streams: 1) New data and tools for the measurement of inequality; 2) Curbing inequality; 3) Urbanisation and Inequality; and 4) Shocks and Inequality.

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Flemish participation to the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE). 01/01/2019 - 31/12/2022

Abstract

Ageing is a key societal challenge. The goal of the ESFRI project SHARE is to build a distributed infrastructure to collect a data set that offers researchers and policy makers a state-of-the-art instrument to study in a detailed and multidisciplinary way the topic of ageing, and the challenges it poses. The SHARE data set is a unique ex-ante harmonised data set of cross-national, comparable microlevel panel data on health, living conditions, socioeconomic status, and social networks of more than 123,000 European individuals aged 50 and over, covering 28 countries. The data set has become a pivotal source for empirical academic research on ageing in Europe in many disciplines, such as economics, health studies, sociology, and demography. Moreover, the SHARE data set allows to address highly policy-relevant questions about ageing, and offers unique information with regard to pressing concerns such as early labour market exit, active ageing, and long-term care.

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Individual Welfare Analysis based on Behavioural Economics (IWABE). 01/01/2018 - 31/12/2021

Abstract

Economists evaluate social and economic policies based on their impact on the individual well-being of the members of society. Such measurement depends mostly on the assumption that individuals behave according to well-behaved (i.e. transitive and complete) preferences. Motivated by the overwhelming empirical evidence from psychology and behavioural economics, according to which individual behavior often seems inconsistent with wellbehaved preferences, we aim at developing the methodological tools for analyzing individual welfare in the presence of such seemingly inconsistencies in the behavior of agents. For doing this we will explore an intermediate approach that is in between the agnostic approach (i.e. robust conclusions without specific explanation for the inconsistencies) and the model approach (i.e. an analysis based on a specific model explaining non well-behaved preferences). For the empirical part, we will extensively use the new and largely unexplored MEqIN data set that was gathered by the PIs of this project. This data set allows to compare several methods for measuring well-being and contains detailed information on all the adults of the selected households. In the applications we will restrict our attention to four main dimensions of well-being: health, material well-being, employment status, and the family situation. In this respect we will also recontact the surveyed households to gather extra data related to our research questions.

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Development for the poor: Evaluating the multidimensional impact of development interventions with respect for the preferences of the poor. 01/01/2018 - 31/12/2021

Abstract

There is a growing consensus in the literature that well-being is a multidimensional concept. Yet, many development programmes still rely on monetary measures of well-being to target beneficiaries and evaluate outcomes. Such measures remain blind to the differences in nonmonetary dimensions of well-being between individuals. A multidimensional framework is required to take these differences into account. The aim of this project is to develop a richer framework for assessing well-being outcomes in development projects. A key feature of this multidimensional framework is that it respects the individual opinions of the poor on the importance of different dimensions of well-being. The framework will be implemented by addressing three specific and policy-relevant questions in three different developing countries. First, the question will be investigated whether the consideration of a richer framework will have implications for the targeting of social programs in Colombia. This question will be addressed using ex ante simulation techniques. Second, the new framework will be used to study the impact of an unconditional cash transfer programme in Kenya, using an ex post difference-in-difference estimator. Finally, we will study to what extent preferences of the poor in Ethiopia can be estimated with new stated preference techniques such as a discrete choice experiment.

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How successfully do older Europeans age? A new measurement toolbox and its application with data from SHARE. 01/10/2017 - 30/09/2021

Abstract

The rapid aging of our societies poses important challenges for policy makers. To evaluate the design and effectiveness of aging policies, it is essential that policy makers and researchers have an operational yardstick for measuring the degree of "successful" aging. The current project deals with the question of how the degree of successful aging can be measured. In particular, it develops a new toolbox that allows for the measurement of successful aging in a fine-grained way. This toolbox will be implemented using new data that will be collected in the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE). Its measures will respect the preferences of older persons and will be sensitive to the distribution of successful aging in the society. None of the existing measures of successful aging in the literature have these appealing features. The project will be organized in four research streams. First, a fine-grained measure of the extent of successful aging at the individual level will be developed. The novelty of this measure will be that it is sensitive to the preferences of the older persons themselves with regards to what is important in their lives. In the second stream, a novel method to estimate the preferences of older persons will be designed and implemented. This method will be based on a series of discrete choices between vignettes and will be implemented in the 8th wave of the SHARE data set in 2018-2019. Third, a distribution-sensitive measure of the extent of successful aging at the societal level will be constructed based on the results from the earlier two research streams and insights from welfare economics. Fourth, it is expected that the measurement toolbox developed in this project will throw new light on old questions in the literature, such as the so-called satisfaction paradox. Moreover, its power to predict future mortality and health problems of older persons will be compared to existing measures. Furthermore, the distribution-sensitive measure of successful aging at the societal level will be used to compare European countries to identify best practices and investigate the role of policies and institutions on successful aging.

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Inequality: Measurement, Sources and Redistribution. 01/10/2016 - 30/09/2021

Abstract

I will focus on three research questions. First, I will study the measurement of inequality. Building on my earlier work on the measurement of multidimensional inequality, I see important research spill-overs to the measurement of multidimensional poverty and multiperiod social mobility. My second research interest is to investigate the sources of inequality in Belgium and the world. The main idea is to construct counterfactual distributions that result from the change of demographic or policy parameters. The third line of research involves a study of optimal redistributive policies. In particular I am interested in the role of the civil society on the formation of the societal willingness to redistribute and in crystallizing the implicit social preferences in our current taxation system.

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Research into the deployment of staff in residential care centers, adapted to the changing care and support needs of the residents. 01/01/2020 - 30/06/2020

Abstract

The research aims to provide necessary and practical tools for determining updated and integrated personnel standards for Flemish residential care centers, both for care staff as well as for support staff.

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SHARE - Belgium, wave 9 - year 1 (SHARE-W9-I). 01/12/2019 - 31/05/2021

Abstract

This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand ESFRI. UA provides ESFRI research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

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SHARE - Belgium, wave 8 - year 2. 01/12/2018 - 30/11/2019

Abstract

This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand ESFRI. UA provides ESFRI research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

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EF32 Experimental framework to use person-specific funding for disabled persons within the framework of an old-age care facility 01/07/2018 - 31/12/2018

Abstract

Met het proefkader willen we een voor alle betrokken actoren, en in het bijzonder de gebruikers en aanbieders, beveiligd kader creëren waarbinnen de mogelijkheden en beperkingen kunnen onderzocht worden inzake het inzetten van het persoonsvolgend budget nRTH VAPH binnen de erkende capaciteit van (semi-) residentiële ouderenzorg met eventuele tussenkomst in de zorgkost door het RIZIV, in het bijzonder WZC, CVK en DVC met bijzondere erkenning. Het werken met een proefkader biedt de sector en de betrokken administraties de nodige ruimte om de modaliteiten van de inzet in de praktijk uit te proberen en pas daarna verder regelgevend te verankeren. Cruciaal hierbij is het komen tot een sluitende financiële regeling die - voor de gebruiker eenvoudig en transparant is; - voor beide sectoren aanvaardbaar is; - voor beide administraties uitvoerbaar is. Het principe dat 'dubbele subsidiëring' vermeden dient te worden, staat hierbij voorop.

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SHARE-België, Golf 8 - jaar 1 (SHARE-W8-1). 01/12/2017 - 30/11/2018

Abstract

Dit project kadert in een ESFRI-onderzoeksopdracht tussen enerzijds UA en anderzijds ESFRI. UA levert aan ESFRI de onderzoeksresultaten genoemd in de titel van het project onder de voorwaarden zoals vastgelegd in voorliggend contract.xx

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To take or not to take? Towards a better understanding of institutional and personal barriers to claiming benefits. 01/10/2017 - 30/09/2018

Abstract

Social benefits targeted at the poor are an important part of modern welfare states. However, recent evidence shows that in many European countries only a fraction of those that are supposed to benefit, take up their social rights. Yet, we have relatively little insight into what drives nontake- up and how policy design can be improved so as to increase take-up. Furthermore, research on this topic, especially in Belgium, is rather scarce. This is unfortunate, because non-take-up undermines the effectiveness of public policies, and a better understanding of non-take-up could make a significant contribution to further insights into economic behaviour of households and their interaction with the welfare state. Therefore, the main objective of this research proposal is to investigate non-take-up of Belgian social assistance schemes and to make progress on three dimensions on which we lack evidence: 1) the size (how big is the problem?), 2) the causes (how can it be explained?) and 3) the solutions (what can be done?). To do so, I will build on the latest theoretical insights, collect and analyse new and existing administrative and survey data, and make use of both microsimulation techniques and field experiments. The results will allow us to a) generate new insights into the economic behaviour of households in general, and the non-take up of social benefits in particular; and b) inform policy makers on how to make existing policy measures more effective for reducing poverty.

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Mobile integrated social services increasing employment outcomes for people in need (MISSION). 01/12/2016 - 30/11/2019

Abstract

In the MISSION project, a pilot programme will be implemented in the Belgian city of Kortrijk to test an innovative outreach approach for the integrated delivery of local services, aimed at the integration of disadvantaged families in the labour market. Multi-disciplinary case handlers will 1) visit a well-defined target group of disadvantaged families; 2) make an assessment of the specific problems and needs of these families, making use of a newly developed smartphone application; and 3) guide these families in finding the right kind of support for a period of 6 months, instead of expecting these families to muddle through the multitude of local services on their own. In short, the case handler will be the single point of contact for disadvantaged families, bringing a one stop shop in social welfare delivery on their doorstep. The effectiveness of the pilot programme will be tested by means of a randomized controlled trial. The experimental design will enable us to test whether close counseling by case handlers helps in improving take up of local employment services. Moreover, it will be examined whether and how the programme can be transferred to cities with similar problems.

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Project website

SHARE - Belgium, Wave 7 - year 2. 01/12/2016 - 30/11/2017

Abstract

This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand ESFRI. UA provides ESFRI research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

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Preference-Sensitive Multidimensional Inequality Measurement. 01/10/2016 - 31/12/2018

Abstract

In empirical work, it is common practice to study inequality by looking at the dispersion in the income distribution. This approach has the drawback that it remains blind to non-income differences between individuals such as their health, employment, and educational outcomes. A multidimensional framework is needed to take these differences into account when measuring inequality. Yet, in a multidimensional framework different individuals may have different preferences over their multidimensional outcomes. It is an open theoretical question how an inequality measure can be constructed that takes this preference heterogeneity into account. The current project therefore investigates how the existing apparatus to measure inequality can be extended to a multidimensional framework while respecting the preferences of the concerned individuals. Two issues will be addressed in detail. First, by using an axiomatic approach a flexible class of preference-based multidimensional inequality measures with attractive properties will be studied. To do that, a novel multidimensional transfer principle that is compatible with the Pareto principle needs to be proposed. Second, a survey instrument based on insights from the stated-preference approach will be developed to estimate preferences over non-income dimensions. Combining these two answers will lead to an operational preference-sensitive multidimensional inequality measure which can be used to design and evaluate social policies.

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The Flemish Well-being Monitor: a pilot study 01/04/2016 - 31/03/2017

Abstract

Interpersonal well-being comparisons are essential in the design and evaluation of social and redistributive policies. Recent advances in the literature have argued that well-being is a multidimensional notion and that income is not necessarily a good proxy for it. Measuring well-being therefore requires a richer multidimensional toolbox which in addition to income, includes information about non-monetary dimensions such as health, labor market and educational outcomes. The existing multidimensional well-being measures often rely on an arbitrary weighting scheme and do not respect the preferences of the concerned individuals about the relative importance of the dimensions of life. These comparisons have therefore been criticized for being paternalistic. Measuring well-being in a non-paternalistic way requires an instrument to elicit the preferences of the respondents over the dimensions of well-being. At present, no flexible and operational instrument exists that is sufficiently fine-grained to offer reliable estimates of these preferences. The current project proposes an online survey instrument, the so-called well-being monitor, to fill this gap. The central and innovative core of the well-being monitor uses a choice-based method for preference elicitation that is based on a sequence of adaptive bisectional repeated dichotomous choices. In short, respondents will be offered a sequence of dichotomous choices between life situations. The responses put narrow bounds on the indifference curves of the respondents in an entirely non-parametric way. The project funding will permit us to finance a research assistant to implement the survey in QUALTRICS (a state-of-the art online survey tool) and, most importantly, to implement a pilot version of the well-being monitor with a sample of approximately 800 respondents in Flanders. The results of this project are important from a scientific perspective as they will allow to design the first, entirely non-parametric tool to make well-being comparisons. Moreover, the survey instrument in itself has a large potential societal impact by informing policy makers what people in Flanders value in their life. By doing so, the well-being monitor will allow policy makers to prioritize in a more informed way and to target comprehensive social policies better.

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Can we trust preferences estimated from happiness data? Disentangling the Gordian knot of happiness, preferences and scaling factors. 01/01/2016 - 31/12/2019

Abstract

Modern welfare economics starts from the premise that the evaluation of an individual's well-being should respect her own preferences on what makes a good life. Estimating these preferences is an important challenge for any applied welfare evaluation and policy design, in particular when nonmarket goods are involved. A novel method to estimate preferences for non-market goods relies on self-reported happiness data. This happiness-based method has clear advantages: it is easy to implement and robust to strategic answers. Yet, individuals may interpret and use the response scale of the happiness question differently. Hence, the self-reported happiness scores cannot be compared. The current project investigates how destructive this finding is. Its main idea is to compare happiness scores given to hypothetical situations (vignettes) in two carefully designed internet surveys.

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ESFRI-project SHARE. 01/01/2016 - 31/12/2018

Abstract

This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand ESFRI. UA provides ESFRI research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

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SHARE - Belgium, Wave 7 - year 1. 01/12/2015 - 30/11/2016

Abstract

This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand ESFRI. UA provides ESFRI research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

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Pilot-survey "Well-being and Preferences: a discrete choice experiment" 01/02/2014 - 31/12/2014

Abstract

The current proposal aims at implementing a pilot survey with students in Belgium, Bangladesh and Colombia so that information can be collected on the prefered weights of the dimensions of the good life by means of a "discrete choice experiment". This novel method allows to develop multidimensional measures of well-being that take account of the opinions of the concerned individuals and which are consequently non-paternalistic.

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Measuring and mobilizing wealth for a cohesive, inclusive and fair society (CRESUS). 01/10/2013 - 31/12/2019

Abstract

The project aims to make relevant contributions at broadly two (intersecting) levels. On the one hand the network aims to contribute to a better informed public debate and policy making process on current policy issues, including the fight against poverty and social inclusion, efficient and equitable taxation, sustainable pensions and health care, labour market access and employability. On the other hand the network aims to make significant scientific contributions at an international level on the joint distribution of income and wealth, especially among the poor and the elderly, the integration of assets and wealth in the measurement of poverty and social exclusion, the incorporation of as sets and wealth in the design of social policy and the optimal taxation of wealth.

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Measuring equivalent incomes: the implementation of individual well-being measures from Belgian data (MEQIN). 01/10/2013 - 31/12/2017

Abstract

The objective of this project is precisely to set up a data set of a representative sample of Belgian households. The data set will be constructed in such a way that the three techniques of estimating preferences will be applied and compared, with the objective of finding the way to mix them to reach the best possible estimates. No such data set exists, neither for Belgium no for any other country. Once preferences are estimated, measures of individual well-being will be obtained and they will then be used for the analysis of the relative importance of the multiple dimensions of poverty, the gender component of poverty and inequality and the causes and remedies of socioeconomic inequalities in health.

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Who are the worst-off in a non-paternalistic multidimensional analysis of well-being? Theory,estimation and an application to old-age poverty in Europe. 01/01/2013 - 31/12/2016

Abstract

A policy maker with scarce resources may want to target the worst-off. In this project, we study the identification of the worst-off (i) when taking a multidimensional perspective to well-being and (ii) while respecting the heterogeneity in opinions on the importance of the dimensions of well-being.

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ESFRI-project SHARE. 01/01/2012 - 31/12/2015

Abstract

This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand the Hercules Foundation. UA provides the Hercules Foundation research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

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Research team(s)

Inequality: Measurement, Sources and Redistribution. 01/10/2011 - 30/09/2016

Abstract

I will focus on three research questions. First, I will study the measurement of inequality. Building on my earlier work on the measurement of multidimensional inequality, I see important research spill-overs to the measurement of multidimensional poverty and multiperiod social mobility. My second research interest is to investigate the sources of inequality in Belgium and the world. The main idea is to construct counterfactual distributions that result from the change of demographic or policy parameters. The third line of research involves a study of optimal redistributive policies. In particular I am interested in the role of the civil society on the formation of the societal willingness to redistribute and in crystallizing the implicit social preferences in our current taxation system.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)