How much do Germany’s top wealth holders own in assets? What are their socio-demographic and psychological characteristics? How do the rich get rich in the first place? And how involved are they in civic and political activities? The project Wealth-Holders at the Top (WATT) seeks to answer these key questions. The aim is to understand the extent, causes, and consequences of economic inequalities. The insights gained through WATT will provide a sound empirical basis for policy decisions.
Up to now, there has been a severe lack of data on top wealth holders in Germany. Through the use of an innovative sampling design, the SOEP has created a database on top wealth holders that is unique worldwide. Based on data from more than 270 million companies around the world, SOEP researchers selected all individuals who are both German residents and registered shareholders in at least one company. These formed the population for the new SOEP sample (N=2,000), which has been surveyed since late 2018. Respondents are interviewed using the standard SOEP-Core questionnaires, including the wealth module.