Wealth Data Science Summer/Winter School 2024 › view all

July 1-12, 2024 (tbc) | Constructor University (Bremen, Germany) & University of Cape Town (South Africa)

July 01 - July 12, 2024
Series: BIGSSS Summer Schools
Event type: public

The Wealth Data Science Summer/Winter School (WeDSS) will take place July 1-12, 2024 (to be confirmed) on two campuses at Constructor University in Bremen, Germany, and the African Center of Excellence for Inequality Research (ACEIR) at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. Both campuses will form a joint online campus for lectures, project work, and exchange.

So, it is a Summer School (Germany) and a Winter School (South Africa)!

The school is funded by the Volkswagen Foundation and organized by Hilke BrockmannJan Lorenz, Murray Leibrandt, Vimal Ranchhod.


Global wealth was “largely immune” to the pandemic and reached a “record high of USD 79,952” per capita in 2020 (Shorrocks et al., 2021). But the distribution is highly uneven (Piketty, 2014). While a small number of individuals possess staggering levels of property, public wealth dropped (Chancel et al., 2021), polarized societies emerged (McCarty et al., 2016), and natural environments deteriorated (Knight et al., 2017).

The link between wealth accumulation and social and environmental degradation is still not well understood. In large part, this is a data problem. Even if the quality and availability of wealth data has substantially improved (Killewald et al., 2017), wealth data remains incomplete and biased. Standard survey methodologies are too costly for many areas of the world and typically fail to capture the super-rich. Tax records are difficult to obtain and do not collect all components of wealth (Vermeulen, 2016).

This is the starting point of our proposal for a summer school. We want to follow the digital footprints of the rich in order to document where, when, how, and why they produce and reproduce wealth. As avid consumers, travelers, and social media users, the wealthy often leave a thick data trail that we will leverage for our purposes (Barros & Wilk, 2021). We will also test if digital data is a meaningful supplement to standard established data sources for wealth and inequality researchers all over the world. The global perspective is important. The concentration of (financial) wealth is an international phenomenon. However, poorer countries often lack the means to maintain an expensive data infrastructure to follow up on this trend. But since multi-purpose information and communication technologies (ICTs) affect all people’s lives (digital transformation), digital data may allow us to better compare wealth across developed and developing countries as well as across social groups.

The aim of our summer school is to make progress on both, data and analysis. Digital data has high volume, velocity and variety and is best analyzed with data science methods. Thus, we propose a “Wealth Data Science Summer School” (WeDSSS). We intend to apply innovative methods to develop and improve theories of wealth generation. We will also store our data in a data lake that will be open for public use after the school has ended. Our school has three
substantive foci which all contribute to a more profound understanding of the genesis of wealth:

  • Mechanisms for the Production of Different Wealth Classes e.g. Innovation, Property Rights, Norms
  • Mechanisms for the Reproduction of Wealth e.g. Families, Geographies
  • Mechanisms for the Redistribution of Wealth e.g. Taxes, Transfers, Patronage

Please visit the school website for further information. Find a current call for project leaders here