LIS Scholars Talking about Global Inequality

On 11 May 2016, LIS Center Scholars Branko Milanovic and Paul Krugman, and LIS Director Janet Gornick, discussed Branko’s new book, Global Inequality: A New Approach for the Age of Globalization (Harvard University Press, 2016).

The event took place at the CUNY Graduate Center. The video is online here.

Enjoy it!

May 25, 2016 | News

Lee Rainwater Memorial Lecture Series Launched

We are pleased to announce the founding of the Lee Rainwater Memorial Lecture Series.

We are launching this lecture series in honor of Lee Rainwater – our colleague, coauthor, mentor, and friend. The series will recognize Lee’s brilliant and creative academic career as well as his role as founding Research Director of the Luxembourg Income Study (LIS).


Lee Rainwater, January 7, 1928 – July 4, 2015

The series – which will begin in spring 2017 – will feature an annual lecture, with the speakers to be chosen by a committee comprised of the series’ donors. The location of the lectures will alternate between Harvard University (where Lee spent much of his career) and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (which houses the US Office of LIS).

The series will be designed to highlight new research within the many substantive areas where Lee made profound intellectual contributions, including poverty, inequality, urban culture, and social policy, and it will span both American and cross-national studies. To honor Lee’s remarkable career trajectory, the series will include scholars using an array and mix of methods – theoretical, qualitative/ethnographic, and quantitative – and from multiple disciplines, including sociology, economics, political science, and policy studies. In short, we intend to include scholars whose work will capture “all of Lee”, from Behind Ghetto Walls and What Money Buys to, thirty years later, Poor Kids in a Rich Country and Wealth and Welfare States – and countless contributions in between. Invited lecturers will be chosen to reflect a diversity of backgrounds.

Please stay tuned for news about the first lecture.

The series will be administered by Janet Gornick and Tim Smeeding.

Here we recognize the founding donors, who have provided support for the first eight lectures.

* The Rainwater Family
* Tim Smeeding and Marcy Carlson
* Janet Gornick
* Irv Garfinkel and Sara McLanahan
* Christopher Jencks
* Herbert J. Gans
* Gerald and Ruth Handel
* Tony and Judith Atkinson
* Markus Jäntti
* Koen Vleminckx and Ann Verboven
* Andrea Brandolini and Luisa Minghetti
* LIS: Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg
* The Harvard Sociology Department (donation of space)

Further contributions will always be welcomed.
Please contact Janet Gornick or Tim Smeeding.

May 24, 2016 | News

NYT Database Updated, Complementary Database Added

We have updated the LIS / New York Times Income Distribution Database that we added to the LIS website in April 2014. This database, which contains detailed information on the distribution and growth of household income across countries, has been updated to include later microdata and to change from 2005 to 2011 PPPs.

We have also added a related database: the Incomes across the Distribution Database (2016), assembled by Stefan Thewissen, Brian Nolan and Max Roser (Institute for New Economic Thinking at the Oxford Martin School, University of Oxford). This database also includes detailed information on income distributions. It contains information on total household income, both disposable and market income, and for entire populations as well as working-age populations.

We encourage you to explore both databases. See “Resources”, then “Other Databases”.

May 24, 2016 | Highlight

New Luxembourg Wealth Study (LWS) Database is launched

Today, LIS is taking an exciting step forward by introducing an expanded and updated version of the Luxembourg Wealth Study (LWS) Database.

Launched in 2007 as a pilot project, the LWS Database has provided opportunities for research on wealth and debt. In the intervening nine years, LIS has contributed to, and gained from, networks of wealth researchers and experts at the OECD and ECB. These ventures have led to improved international standards and better practices for collecting and analysing micro statistics on household wealth.

One outcome of these collaborations is a redesigned LWS Database. Our upgraded database embodies a cutting-edge conceptual framework and improved standards for the analysis of household wealth. The new LWS Database ensures high quality and comparability across countries.

Today, we are releasing 12 newly harmonised datasets, from seven countries: Australia, Canada, Finland, Greece, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The reference years range from 2005 to 2013. The number of LWS datasets will continue to increase; more extensive data holdings will enable new lines of research on wealth and debt across countries and, to some extent, over time.

The LWS Database includes harmonized microdata on various aspects of household balance sheets, as well as related economic, demographic, and behavioral variables. The data enable distributional analyses on household assets and liabilities, which are particularly important for gaining a comprehensive understanding of households’ financial stability.

We anticipate that the common variables in the LWS and LIS Databases, specifically income, expenditures, and a range of demographic and economic characteristics, will facilitate the use of the new LWS datasets by our large community of LIS Database users. With these new LWS datasets, our data users will be able to jointly assess multiple dimensions of household economic well-being, namely wealth, income and (in some datasets) consumption.

Last, but not least, we will continue to make available the pilot version of the LWS Database and, over time, we will harmonize some of these earlier datasets into the new LWS Database.

May 2, 2016 | Highlight

Tim Smeeding named “Lee Rainwater Distinguished Professor of Public Affairs and Economics”

Tim Smeeding, former LIS Director, has received a prestigious award from the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation. The award granted Tim a named professorship, and invited him to select the name. Tim chose the title: Lee Rainwater Distinguished Professor of Public Affairs and Economics. For over two decades, Lee was LIS’ Research Director; he was a cherished colleague to all of us at LIS.

The University of Wisconsin announcement noted: “Lee was a gifted scholar whose classic works on ghetto life and the culture of poverty, human capital and social policy forged new pathways for many younger scholars who were in his debt” Smeeding said about his mentor, friend and co-author who died in 2015.

The LIS directors and staff congratulate Tim, and we celebrate his decision to honor Lee in this way.

March 22, 2016 | News

The Guardian launched a two-week series based on LIS data

Today, the Guardian launched a two-week series, on the worrisome economic status of “Generation Y” (those born between 1980 and the mid-1990s) in eight affluent countries: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, UK and US.

The main data source was our Luxembourg Income Study Database. We look forward to future collaborations with the Guardian – whose team described LIS as Luxembourg’s best kept secret”!

March 7, 2016 | Highlight

Professor Daniele Checchi to assume Directorship of Luxembourg LIS Office

Dear LIS Community,

As 2016 starts, I not only wish you a very happy New Year but also bring news of new developments in the organization of LIS.

The LIS Executive Committee and Board have, at Janet’s instigation, been looking to the future in terms both of structure and personnel, and are very pleased that we have been able to set in place the arrangements that are described in the following note from Janet.

I will not re-iterate the information given in her note, but simply would like to welcome most warmly Daniele Checchi to the LIS management team. Together with its wonderful staff, in Luxembourg and New York, LIS has I believe a mix of “continuity and change” that equips it well for future challenges.

With best wishes,

Tony Atkinson
LIS President

Message from LIS Director Janet Gornick

I am pleased to announce that an expansion of our senior leadership is now underway.

On 1 September 2006, I became Director of LIS, taking responsibility for all LIS operations, which have been based in Luxembourg since 1983. In 2009, LIS opened a satellite office in the US, located at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and known as the “LIS Center” or the “US LIS Office”. In the last five years, both offices have grown dramatically and I concluded, with the support of our international governing body, that we needed to expand our senior team.

After an international search that took place early in 2015, Professor Daniele Checchi, an economist currently on sabbatical from the University of Milan, agreed to join our team. As of 1 September 2016, Daniele will become “Director of the Luxembourg LIS Office”. I will continue to serve as “Director of the US LIS Office”. Daniele and I will work in close cooperation, leading LIS jointly in the coming years.

Daniele’s extensive background in research, teaching, and academic administration – and his decades of experience with the LIS data and related datasets – make him a perfect fit for this new position. He will work with us, informally from 1 January to 31 August, 2016 – and then, on 1 September, he will join us formally.

All of us at LIS – staff, directors, and board – are eager to welcome him to the LIS team. We will stay in touch as our re-organization continues to take shape.

Best wishes,

Janet Gornick
LIS Director

January 11, 2016 | News

A fourth statistical package now offered

We are pleased to announce that a new statistical package has become available in the LISSY system.

As of today, it will be possible to use the programming language R when submitting jobs in LISSY.

In order for LISSY to process R requests, a few exceptions to the usual statistical program syntax are required. Please consult our “Using R on the LISSY system” page.

Additional self-teaching packages have also been added.

Should you have further queries, please contact our usersupport.

December 16, 2015 | News

Upcoming Expert Workshop in Luxembourg, 16-18 March 2016

Data visualisation and outreach to stakeholders


Source: Flavia Camilleri ©

We are pleased to announce that we are organizing, conjointly with TÁRKI Social Research Institute, an expert workshop on data visualisation and outreach to stakeholders.

Today, there is great demand for information that is interpretable to a wide range of stakeholders, including governments, policy-makers, media, NGOs, and the corporate world. The workshop will assess both content and tools aimed at making data and research findings, related to poverty and living conditions, accessible to audiences outside conventional research communities.

Sessions at the workshop will assess what these various stakeholders want and need in order to engage in effective evidence-based decision-­making. Through a combination of presentations and group discussions, the workshop will consider strategies for designing optimal content as well as effective dissemination tools, including online table­making, data visualisation, research and policy briefs, public events, and various forms of e-learning.

The LIS team will present some new data offerings as a way to illustrate some of these questions and challenges. Our colleagues from TÁRKI will present the IPOLIS (Integrated Poverty and Living Conditions Indicator System) monitoring database, together with the beta-version of the visualisation tool attached to it. IPOLIS is conceived to serve as a resource for various user groups (researchers, policy-makers at different levels, NGO experts, journalists, students, etc.) to monitor the situation of children, youth and elderly in the field of poverty, living conditions and quality of life.

For potential applicants

The workshop is targeting visualisation experts, researchers, policy-makers, data journalists, NGOs, and field experts from the corporate world. Participants shall indicate in their application whether they intend to present at the workshop, or to intervene in the focused discussions.

For presenters, we encourage submission of 1-­page discussion notes (or a relevant paper) that deal with issues that are commonly addressed with simulation and visualisation tools. Discussion points could potentially include ideas on how LIS and other research and data organisations can convert knowledge into forms and products that are ‘digestible’ to practitioners and other non-researchers. Or consider what tools and instruments are most effective for data dissemination once the infor­mation has been rendered interpretable by audiences that are not expert in either research or data.

We invite discussants to submit a short statement explaining exactly what their interest is with respect to the large question at hand. These statements will be used as the basis of discussions that will take place following the formal presentations. The workshop will be structured so as to allow ample time for discussion and feedback, in each session.

How to apply

Applications shall be submitted no later than 17 January 2016. Criteria for selection will include quality, originality, and relevance. International contributions are welcome. Please submit your statement/discussion notes through the online application form. Applicants will be informed soon after the submission deadline about acceptance of their abstract (first week of February 2016).

Apply here

About InGRID

The InGRID project, which runs from 2013 to 2017, brings together 17 academic partners from Europe. The project aims to integrate and optimise the existing European data infrastructure and accompanying expertise, through joint research, the organisation of expert workshops and summer/winter schools, as well as a Visiting Scholar progam that promotes transnational access to research infrastructures.

For more information, contact

December 10, 2015 | News

Marshall Auerback and Branko Milanovic discuss income inequality

This discussion between Marshall Auerback of the Institute for New Economic Thinking and Branko Milanovic of the Luxembourg Income Study Center offers a great insight into global income inequality in the 21st century.

Watch the complete footage here:

November 30, 2015 | News