Major European Research Council Synergy funding win for economic inequality project

Brian Nolan

Professor Brian Nolan, of the Department of Social Policy and Intervention and Institute for New Economic Thinking at the Oxford Martin School, has been announced today as one of the winners of a prestigious European Research Council Synergy grant. Along with Professor Thomas Piketty of the Paris School of Economics and Professor Emmanuel Saez of the University of California at Berkeley, Professor Nolan will be pursuing an innovative approach to comprehensively capturing economic inequality through ‘distributional national accounts’.

‘Towards a System of Distributional National Accounts’ (DINA) will be a 6 year €9.8 million project aiming to produce for all countries annual estimates of the distribution of income and wealth using concepts that are consistent with the macroeconomic national accounts. The project will build upon the latest developments in the field of inequality research, and will bring together academics and governmental statistical institutions to develop an international, standardised system of Distributional National Accounts.

The underlying problem is that existing economic statistics do not provide a comprehensive picture of income, wealth and how growth is distributed across the population. Much progress has been made in understanding the top of the income distribution, but there are still important limitations in measuring and understanding how economic growth is spread across society. DINA, using an innovative system of ‘synthetic DINA micro-files’ will address this challenge head on, building bridges between micro and macroeconomic concepts, indicators and sources of data.

The outcomes from this project are of major significance. The estimates will be made available online, and will play a critical role in public debates about income and wealth inequality and who benefits from economic growth. A wide range of actors in civil society and in the academic, business and political communities will be able to use the data as a resource for further analysis and to drive policy change. The research will enable a better understanding of how gender inequality influences economic inequality, and will make it possible to study inequality at regional and global levels. Significant preparatory work has already been carried out, and the ERC funding will come on stream in 2020.

List of site pages