Assistant professor Ravaska Terhi and working group

339800 €

Wealth Inequality, Well-being and Public Policy

Tieteellinen tutkimus / siihen pohjautuva työ | Nelivuotinen

We know very little how wealth is distributed in society because systematic wealth data collection on an individual level has been lacking. Understanding how wealth is distributed and accumulated is crucial for the social sciences and the design of public policies. The main objective of this project is to contribute to providing an evidence base for sustainable social development, especially for public policies that aim to foster fair income and wealth distributions. In this project, we are constructing a new and comprehensive database measuring the net wealth of individuals and households in Finland. Furthermore, we analyze the evolution of wealth disparities using this data and employ exogenous variations resulting from public policy reforms to study the welfare effects of these policies. Our database relies on total population registers, collected from various administrative registers, over an extended period. Additionally, we contribute by developing machine learning methods for big data to predict market values when they are not directly observable. Our project refines the understanding of the wealth distribution, which currently is based on surveys of about 10,000 households conducted only in some years. With our total population data, we can conduct highly nuanced analyses. For example, we can observe housing wealth over time across different geographical areas or pension wealth among various cohorts. Throughout the project, we will facilitate the replicability of our results and the use of the data for new projects. This new data benefits various fields within social sciences, particularly those focusing on topics related to public policies, financial measures of well-being, and long time-series, such as studying intergenerational linkages. For policymakers, we will provide more comprehensive indicators to examine the welfare effects of policies.