Herwig Immervoll is Senior Economist and Head of Employment-Oriented Social Policies at the OECD. He has headed research projects and policy dialogue on redistribution and inequality trends, minimum-income safety nets and activation policies and has been the lead author of reports on social policy responses to the economic crisis. He has initiated or co-led World Bank policy analyses in the Eastern Europe and Central Asia region on population ageing and pensions, employment support and tax/transfer policies. He has also led employment and social policy reviews of countries seeking to join the OECD as part of its Accession process.

Herwig has held earlier staff positions at the World Bank and at the University of Cambridge, where he had a major role in developing EUROMOD, the EU-wide tax-benefit model. He is a Research Fellow at the the IZA in Bonn and a Research Associate/Affiliate at the Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER, University of Essex). He also served as a member of the Board of Governors of the Foundation of International Studies on Social Security (FISS), and was a member of the GINI research network.

Herwig has published widely on social, fiscal and labour-market topics in OECD and World Bank reports, as well as in academic journals including Economic Journal, Journal of Public Economics, Journal of Economic Inequality, Review of Income and Wealth and International Tax and Public Finance. He has worked extensively on microsimulation methods and their application to policy analysis and evaluation.

Current ongoing work includes options for adapting social protection to a "future of work", examining the consequences of a Basic Income, trends in income inequality and government redistribution, safety-net benefits and minimum-income protection, rights and responsibilities in social protection systems, gender inequalities, minimum wages, and the implications of the economic crisis for employment and social policies.

Herwig is Austrian and holds a PhD in economics and Masters degrees in economics and in business administration.

He joined IZA as a Research Fellow in December 2004.



IZA Discussion Paper No. 11192
published in a special issue of the Journal of Economic Inequality, honouring the work of Sir Anthony “Tony” Atkinson. DOI 10.1007/s10888-017-9366-6. Also available as OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Paper

Recent debates of basic income (BI) proposals shine a useful spotlight on the challenges that traditional forms of income support are increasingly facing, and highlight gaps in social provisions that largely depend on income or employment status. A universal "no questions asked" public transfer would be simple and have the...

IZA Discussion Paper No. 9954
Rodrigo Fernandez, Herwig Immervoll, Daniele Pacifico, Céline Thévenot
originally published as OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Paper

This paper proposes a novel method for identifying and visualising key employment obstacles that may prevent individuals from participating fully in the labour market. The approach is intended to complement existing sources of information that governments use when designing and implementing activation and employment-support policies. In particular, it aims to...

IZA Discussion Paper No. 8786
Also available as OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Paper. Section 3, authored by Königs, published in the International Journal of Social Welfare

Means-tested Social Assistance (SA) benefits play an important role as social protection floors supporting households in financial difficulties. This paper presents evidence on the patterns of SA benefit receipt in a selection of OECD and EU countries. It provides an overview of the role of SA benefits in social protection...

IZA Discussion Paper No. 7190
revised version published as 'Tax Policy and Income Inequality in the United States, 1979–2007' in: Economic Inquiry, 2015, 53 (2), 1061-1085

We assess the effects of U.S. tax policy reforms on inequality by applying a new decomposition method that allows us to disentangle the direct policy effect from the effect of changing market incomes. Over the whole period 1979-2007 the cumulative tax policy effect aggravated income inequality by increasing the income...

IZA Discussion Paper No. 6030
Herwig Immervoll, Linda Richardson
also available as OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Paper

We use a range of data sources to assess if, and to what extent, government redistribution policies have slowed or accelerated the trend towards greater income disparities in the past 20-25 years. In most countries, inequality among "non-elderly" households has widened during most phases of the economic cycle and any...

IZA Discussion Paper No. 5910
substantially revised version available as IZA DP 7190

We assess the effects of U.S. tax policy reforms on inequality by applying a new decomposition method that allows us to disentangle mechanical effects due to changes in pre-tax incomes from direct effects of policy reforms. While tax reforms implemented under Democrat administrations, in particular the EITC reforms in the...

IZA Discussion Paper No. 5355
published in: Journal of Economic Inequality, 2012, 10 (3), 375-395

The main objectives of social assistance benefits, including poverty alleviation and labor-market or social reintegration, can be seriously compromised if support is difficult to access. While recent studies point to high non-take-up rates, existing evidence does not make full use of the information recorded by benefit agencies. Most studies have...

IZA Discussion Paper No. 5220
revised version published as 'Distributional consequences of labor-demand shocks: the 2008–2009 recession in Germany' in: International Tax and Public Finance, 2012, 19 (1), 118-138

Macro-level changes can have substantial effects on the distribution of resources at the household level. While it is possible to speculate about which groups are likely to be hardest-hit, detailed distributional studies are still largely backward-looking. This paper suggests a straightforward approach to gauge the distributional and fiscal implications of...

IZA Discussion Paper No. 4627
published in: D. J. Besharov and K. A. Couch (eds.), Counting the Poor. New Thinking About European Poverty Measures and Lessons for the United States, 2012, Oxford University Press, 171-209. Also available as OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Paper

Almost all OECD countries operate comprehensive minimum-income programmes for working-age individuals, either as last-resort safety nets alongside primary income replacement benefits, or as the principal instrument for delivering social protection. Such safety-net benefits aim primarily at providing an acceptable standard of living for families unable to earn sufficient incomes from...

IZA Discussion Paper No. 3965
completely different version published as 'Optimal tax and transfer programs for couples with extensive labor supply responses' in: Journal of Public Economics, 2011, 95 (11-12), 1485-1500

This paper presents an evaluation of the tax-transfer treatment of married couples in 15 EU countries using the EUROMOD microsimulation model. First, we show that many tax-transfer schemes in Europe feature negative jointness defined as a situation where the tax rate on one person depends negatively on the earnings of...