Associated Programs

The Levy Institute Measure of Economic Well-Being

The Levy Institute Measure of Economic Well-Being

The Levy Institute Measure of Economic Well-Being (LIMEW) is informed by the view that three key institutions—the market, state, and household—mediate the access of the members of the household to the goods and services produced in a modern market economy. The magnitude of the access that can be exercised by the household is approximated by a well-being measure that reflects the resources that the household can command for facilitating current consumption or acquiring physical or financial assets. The three institutions form interdependent parts of an organic entity, and household economic well-being is fundamentally shaped by the complex functioning of this entity.

The LIMEW has two crucial characteristics. First, its focus is limited to components that can be converted into money equivalents. Second, it is a household-level measure that can be evaluated for households in different economic and demographic groups, such as those in different percentiles of the income distribution or those in different racial groups.

The LIMEW is constructed as the sum of the following components: base money income (gross money income less government cash transfers and property income), the value of certain employer-provided in-kind benefits, income from wealth, net government expenditures (transfers and public consumption net of taxes), and the value of household production. In the absence of an ideal, unified database to measure household economic well-being, the LIMEW is built using mainly information from income and employment surveys (e.g., the Annual Demographic Supplement of the Current Population Survey conducted by the US Census Bureau), other surveys on wealth and time use, National Income and Product Accounts, and government agencies.

Research Program

The Distribution of Income and Wealth

Program Publications