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Top-level research on wealth inequality at SOEP: ERC Consolidator Grant awarded to Philipp Lersch

News of January 23, 2024

SOEP Senior Research Fellow Philipp Lersch was granted one of the highest endowed research grants of the European Commission, the European Research Council (ERC) Consolidator Grant. He successfully competed with his project “WEALTHTRAJECT: Understanding Trajectories of Wealth Accumulation and Their Variability.” From December 2024, the project will receive approximately two million Euros over the next five years.

Each year the ERC Consolidator Grant is bestowed upon particularly innovative projects submitted by European researchers. Philipp Lersch is one of this year’s four grantees of the Leibniz Association. His success enables SOEP to further establish its focus on wealth research. “SOEP is fortunate to have a researcher of such caliber in its ranks and looks forward to working with Philipp on the important topic of wealth accumulation over the life course,” said Prof. Dr. Sabine Zinn, Vice Director of SOEP. Philipp Lersch himself is pleased to be able conduct the project at SOEP: “SOEP is indeed an excellent location for my research. The unique data set and the collaboration with other wealth researchers offer me an ideal platform for my project.”

The starting point of the project is the high level of wealth inequality in many countries. According to Lersch, the rather static and average-oriented methods of existing wealth research are not sufficient to analyze current developments and trends in more detail. Instead, WEALTHTRAJECT will, for the first time, investigate the development of wealth and deviations from typical developments over the entire life course, in relation to different social groups. “As a sociologist, I am particularly interested in how social circumstances and conditions shape people’s wealth at different points in their lives,” emphasizes Philipp Lersch. To this end, he will use new statistical methods applied to existing longitudinal and register data. The project will also collect new biographical data. As a result, the gain and loss of wealth over the course of a lifetime can be mapped in more detail than was previously the case. Thus, WEALTHTRAJECT will make a valuable and socio-politically relevant contribution to international wealth research.