InGRID2: Successful Visiting Scholars Program Continues

The second bid of InGRID – InGRID2 project – to the EU call of Horizon 2020 has been approved.

The InGRID infrastructure, which brings together 19 academic partners from Europe, aims to integrate and optimise the existing European Data Infrastructure and accompanying expertise, through joint research, the organisation of expert workshops as well as a Visiting Scholar program.

Running from mid-2017 to mid-2021, the InGRID2 project will allow LIS to welcome researchers onsite and also grant LIS with support to its virtual access system.

June 13, 2017 | Ignore on home

PhD Scholarships to Work with LIS Data in Sydney

The University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia is offering scholarships for students to undertake research on poverty and inequality using LIS.

These scholarships, part of the 2017 Scientia Scholarship round, will be supervised by Bruce Bradbury and Peter Saunders at the Social Policy Research Centre at UNSW.

For more details, see here . The closing date is 21 July 2017

June 13, 2017 | Ignore on home

Inaugural Lee Rainwater Memorial Lecture

Earlier this spring, Robert Erikson, Professor of Sociology Emeritus at the University of Stockholm and former LIS president (2002-2011), has given the inaugural Lee Rainwater Memorial Lecture:
Social Selection in Education and its Consequences for Mobility.

The series, launched in honor of Lee Rainwater (January 7, 1928 – July 4, 2015), recognizes Lee’s brilliant and creative academic career as well as his role as founding Research Director of the Luxembourg Income Study (LIS).

The video is online here.

June 12, 2017 | News

Call for papers: Special Issue of the Journal of Income Distribution

A call for papers of a special issue of the Journal of Income Distribution has been launched. In this special issue, LIS/LWS scholars are offered the opportunity to publish their research in one volume in order to broaden the discussion and enhance our knowledge from inequality and poverty to labor market participation, from saving patterns to class composition.

Priority will be given to papers presented at the 2017 LIS/LWS Users Conference.

We strongly encourage LIS/LWS users to submit their paper online with the subject line LIS to
Note that the submission deadline is July 31, 2017.

June 1, 2017 | News

2017 LIS Introductory Summer Workshop Application is available

The application of our annual 2017 Introductory Summer Workshop can be found here.

Practical information is available at the 2017 LIS Summer Workshop webpage

The application is due 26 March 2017.

Source image: Flavia Camilleri ©

February 18, 2017 | News

We won’t see his like again

Remembrances from

Daniele Checchi

Janet Gornick

Frank Cowell

Francisco H. G. Ferreira and Ana Revenga

Alain Trannoy, EHESS and AMSE

Rolf Aaberge

January 19, 2017 | Ignore on home

Francois Bourguignon has been named President of LIS Board

We are pleased to announce that François Bourguignon has been named President of the Board of LIS: Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg.

François Bourguignon, a French economist, is a scholar of income distribution, inequality and poverty, redistribution, and economic development. He is a former Chief Economist and Senior Vice President of the World Bank (2003-2007), professor and former director at the Paris School of Economics, and former professor at the ‘Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Politiques’. He has held a number of advisory positions and is the recipient of several honors, most recently the Chevalier de l’Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur, France (2010), the Médaille d’honneur de la Santé et des Affaires Sociales, France (2012), and the Juan Luis Londono Prize, Lacea, Bogota-Colombia (2012).

François collaborated with Tony Atkinson on many projects, most notably as co-editor of the Handbook of Income Distribution (2000, 2015). Tony was President from 1 January 2012 until his untimely death on 1 January 2017. As we mourn Tony’s absence, we feel immensely grateful that he was able to oversee François’ selection at last summer’s LIS Board Meeting.

François takes up the post today, 16 January, six months earlier than anticipated. He has large shoes to fill, but we are extremely pleased to have him at LIS’ helm and look forward to his guidance and contributions.

January 16, 2017 | News

LIS METadata Information System (METIS) has been launched

We are delighted to announce the launch of the LIS METadata Information System (METIS), a powerful search tool that documents the structure and content of the LIS and LWS Databases.

METIS is a simple and practical point of entry to our complex microdata. It provides immediate access to our comprehensive documentation, without the need for scrolling through hundreds of documents. METIS replaces the current documentation system which, after many years, had become archaic.

Through a new Web Interface, it is now possible to identify, browse, aggregate, and export information about the LIS and LWS Databases.

Our new documentation system:

  • includes generic, dataset-specific, and variable-specific information that can be located with a few clicks;
  • allows users to retrieve and export information based on search queries that can be customized according to users’ needs.

METIS capitalizes on exciting new technologies and on the strengths of the LIS/LWS microdata, thus better enabling and promoting the highest quality social science research.
Before conducting empirical analyses using our microdata, we strongly encourage our data users to consult METIS and the documentation that it contains.

January 12, 2017 | News

We mourn the loss of Tony Atkinson, LIS President

It is with immense sadness that we announce the death of Sir Anthony Atkinson, on January 1, 2017. Besides being the President of the LIS Board since 2011, Tony has had a fundamental – albeit discreet – role in the construction and development of LIS since its very inception in the 1980s.

Tony was an exceptional scholar of poverty and inequality, but mostly of all he will be remembered by the LIS staff for his incredible wisdom, his great modesty, his wonderful gentlemanliness, and the very much sought and follow

January 2, 2017 | Ignore on home

New Leadership Structure at LIS

Dear LIS Community,

I am happy to share the news that today is the first day of a new leadership structure at LIS. Below I offer some key information and recognize several people who have made LIS what it is, over many years

The new leadership structure

Since its inception in 1983, LIS has had a single Director, responsible for the overall operation of LIS. Tim Smeeding served in that role from 1983 to 2006. Ten years ago today, Tim handed me “the baton”, and I stepped into his shoes (a daunting assignment). Tim was, of course, joined by Lee Rainwater, who served as LIS’ Research Director from 1983 to 2005, and I was joined by Markus Jäntti, who succeeded Lee in that same position, from 2005-2014.

Since 2006, LIS has grown tremendously and it is now too large and complex to be well-served by a single Director. A few years ago, I sought guidance from our Board President, Sir Tony Atkinson, and our Executive Committee. Together, we arrived at a plan for a new leadership structure and, today, that new structure takes effect.

As of 1 September 2016, LIS will be overseen by two Directors. Daniele Checchi, an economist at the University of Milan, will serve as “Director of the Luxembourg Office of LIS”. Daniele will also take on the legal role of LIS’ Secretary General. I will serve as “Director of the US Office of LIS”; the US Office remains situated within the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY). In the coming years, Daniele and I will assume differentiated responsibilities, but we will work in close cooperation, making major decisions jointly about the scope of LIS’ work and its overall priorities.

Daniele will have a partner in Luxembourg, Thierry Kruten, who will continue to serve as Director of Operations and IT Director. I will work closely with Caroline Batzdorf, who will continue as Assistant Director of the US Office and Director of Development.

Daniele, Thierry, Caroline and I look forward to working together. We four are grateful that LIS’ tremendous staff – in both offices – will remain in place (albeit with the usual pattern of periodic turnover).

A brief look back at the last ten years

I must say – with considerable pride and some amazement – that our small team in Luxembourg has accomplished a great deal since 2006. Here are some highlights:

  • We added four additional “waves” of microdata (2004, 2007, 2010, and 2013) to the LIS Database, our longstanding income database.
  • We added datasets from Japan and Korea, and then prioritized acquiring data from middle-income countries; we were able to add data for the first time from India, China, South Africa, Egypt, Serbia, and Georgia, as well as from Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay; several more new countries are in the pipeline.
  • We extensively revised our variable template, twice, markedly improving the comparability and ease-of-use of our microdata.
  • We launched and then re-launched the LWS Database, which enables our community of researchers to study assets and debt, in conjunction with other socio-economic outcomes.
  • We rebranded our institution as “LIS: Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg”, released a new website, and joined the world of social media.
  • We upgraded LISSY (our remote-execution software), making it increasingly efficient and user-friendly.
  • We built a modernized documentation system known as METIS (to be introduced this autumn).
  • We initiated several new collaborations with supranational organizations, including the World Bank, the IMF, the ILO, UNICEF, UNDP, the OECD, and the European Central Bank; we also worked with the New York Times and The Guardian on in-depth media reports based on our data.
  • We added an EU-funded Visiting Scholar program and welcomed our first pre-doctoral and post-doctoral scholars funded by the Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR).
  • We held a large international conference on “inequality and the status of middle class”; that resulted in an edited book published by Stanford University Press in 2013; the book has received uniformly excellent reviews in diverse academic journals.
  • With support from the Luxembourg Ministry of the Economy, in 2009, we launched the annual LIS Summer Lecture Series, which has featured prominent economists including Lawrence Mishel, Paul Krugman, Thomas Piketty, Holly Sutherland, Branko Milanovic, Stephen Jenkins, and Francisco Ferreira.
  • We helped to found a new unit at the University of Luxembourg focused on inequality scholarship.
  • We welcomed a remarkable roster of LIS Senior Scholars into our circle, including Professors Louis Chauvel, Conchita D’Ambrosio, Paul Krugman, Branko Milanovic, and Frank Cowell.
  • And, last but not least, our Luxembourg office moved from Luxembourg City to Belval, the new scientific and cultural center in southwest Luxembourg; this geographic move deepened our ties with our colleagues at the University of Luxembourg and renewed old ties with LISER (formerly CEPS).

During this past decade, there have, of course, been frustrations and disappointments as well. We have been denied access (we hope temporarily!) to microdata from a few key country participants and the financial crisis led to some funding instability. Nevertheless, all told, we close out these years as a small but robust organization, poised to retain our strengths and build on them in the coming years.

LIS rests on many shoulders

Transitions are, of course, times for reflection and acknowledgment. I want to recognize several people who built LIS and who helped me over the course of many years.

Nearly 35 years ago, Lee Rainwater and Tim Smeeding transformed a set of ideas into an accessible cross-national microdatabase and then built a small organization. Their energy and talent, and their unique partnership, gave LIS the foundation on which it sits today. After Lee’s retirement from LIS in 2005, he kept in touch and followed our accomplishments with pleasure. The LIS community grieved when Lee died in 2015; we remain grateful for the intellectual standards that he set for LIS. Tim’s immense contributions defy description; his dynamism and commitment to LIS remain the stuff of legend.

Tim and Lee were supported by colleagues in Luxembourg, who took a leap of faith in welcoming this odd little project – and later, institution – into Luxembourg. Gaston Schaber, Serge Allegrezza, Marc Cigrang, and Germain Dondelinger gave in myriad ways. Sadly, Gaston died in 2010, and Germain in 2015. As with Lee, their contributions to LIS live on. We enjoy productive relationships with Serge and Marc to this day.

Two extraordinary academics have served as LIS’ Board Presidents. Robert Erikson masterfully guided LIS through a difficult, but mercifully brief, episode of institutional instability; he was invaluable in shepherding LIS, fifteen years ago, as we transitioned into an independent non-profit organization. Tony Atkinson succeeded Robert, on 1 January 2012. Since taking over from Robert, Tony has brilliantly, graciously, and generously helped us to make a multitude of decisions. Tony always reminds us to think big and to look to the future, even when making decisions that seem small in the moment. I will be eternally grateful for the opportunity to work with both of them.

Finally, while many people in the Luxembourg Office of LIS have worked with me, and helped me, during my ten years as LIS’ overall Director, there are three people to whom I have turned for advice and support on literally thousands of occasions. When I arrived in Walferdange in June of 1990, to work at LIS, Caroline de Tombeur greeted me with warmth and wisdom; for 26 years, I have relied on her in countless ways. Since I became Director of LIS, Thierry Kruten and Teresa Munzi have linked me to the daily work of LIS, enabling me to do my job from across an ocean. I have learned an immense amount from them both, and I look forward to collaborating with them in the coming years. I am also grateful, of course, to the many talented people who have served on LIS’ data team over the years; they produce the foundation of our work.

A substantial expansion in New York

Today’s major change in Luxembourg is paired with an exciting development across the Atlantic – in New York. When I became LIS Director in 2006, I opened a small “US Office of LIS”, within my university, the Graduate Center (the doctoral-granting campus) of CUNY. In 2009, the LIS Center became an official center within the Graduate Center. The LIS Center has been a venue for administrative, outreach, and fundraising work in support of LIS; from there, we have also organized an array of courses, public programs, and research projects.

Earlier this year, we decided that, when LIS’ leadership reorganization was implemented – today – we would simultaneously change the name of the LIS Center, at CUNY, to the Center on Socio-Economic Inequality/ Home to the US Office of LIS. (The US Office of LIS will be a component of the Center.) The purpose of the name change is to make the content of our work more evident to a broad audience.

We were nearing completion of that transition, including creating a new website, when we received some extraordinary and welcome news. Three weeks ago, a pair of Boston-based philanthropists – Jim and Cathy Stone – gave the Graduate Center US$2,500,000 to support our new Center. Following tradition, our new Center will be named after the Stones; it will be called, in short, the “Stone Center on Socio-Economic Inequality”. Please visit our new website for a fuller introduction to our renamed and expanded Center. (Note that one official step lies ahead. At CUNY, namings associated with physical space are subject to approval of the CUNY Board of Trustees; that step is scheduled to take place this autumn.)

We are thrilled and delighted by this gift. It puts the US Office of LIS on solid ground. That, in turn, will enable Caroline and me to concentrate our efforts on support for the Luxembourg Office of LIS.


So, today, I hand “the baton” to Daniele – a different baton than the one that I was handed ten years ago, but one that, for him, is new nonetheless. I wish Daniele the best in his work at LIS, and I look forward to collaborating with him in the coming years.


September 1, 2016 | News