Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Sociology of Social Policy


ALLBUS award 2022

We are happy to share that the paper "Cohort Changes in the Level and Dispersion of Gender Ideology After German Reunification: Results from a Natural Experiment." by Christian Ebner, Michael Kühhirt and Philipp M. Lersch has won the ALLBUS award for best paper 2022. Utilizing data from the German General Social Survey (ALLBUS) from 1991 to 2016, the analysis finds East German birth cohorts socialized before reunification to hold more egalitarian gender attitudes than younger cohorts, as well as than their West German counterparts. Despite convergence of gender ideologies between East and West over time, a gap still remains in 2016.

Welcome to our new colleagues

We are pleased to welcome several new colleagues to our research group. Nhat An Trinh has joined the MyWealth project as a post-doctoral researcher. She completed her Ph.D. at the University of Oxford with a dissertation on social stratification and intergenerational mobility. The InterVerm project welcomes post-doctoral researcher Max Longmuir, who received a Ph.D. from Freie Universität Berlin for his work on wealth inequality, and research assistant Yannick Harksen. Tom Klein and Franziska Sesser joined the department as student assistants.

2020 in a nutshell

Although 2020 was shaped by the Covid19 pandemic and associated restrictions, our team managed to adapt quickly and had a successful year. Taking advantage of the ample digital tools for remote working, we taught online courses, participated and presented at conferences and workshops, and even held a workshop ourselves. 

Online conferences and workshops our team presented at include American Sociological Association (ASA), Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics (SASE), European Consortium for Sociological Research (ECSR), EUROMOD Winter School, Network for European Social Policy Analysis (ESPAnet), European Network for the Sociological and Demographic Study of Divorce, the Society for Longitudinal and Lifecourse Studies (SLLS), and the European Population Conference. While online conferences and workshops will likely continue to be relevant in 2021, we are hopeful to meet all our colleagues and collaborators, and make new connections at in-person meetings soon. 

Together with researchers from Oxford and Mannheim, Dr. Nicole Kapelle, Theresa Nutz, and Daria Tisch founded a network for early career researchers on "Gender and Wealth Inequality" (GWIN). The network started off in October with a two-day kick-off workshop funded by the European Consortium for Sociological Research (ECSR). We hope to see our network grow in future and provide a platform for other early career scholars studying gender wealth inequalities!  

In 2020, our team was also fortunate to publish several manuscripts in a variety of highly ranked journals: American Sociological Review, Demography, Social Forces, Journal of Marriage and Family, European Sociological Review, International Journal of Social Research Methodology, Social Science and Medicine, Advances in Life Course Research. In order to disseminate the findings of our work, we also provided working papers or short summaries (LIS Working Paper Series, SOEP Working Paper series, SoSci Panel Study Summaries, LIS Newsletter). We thank all the reviewers and editors but also other colleagues for taking the time to provide excellent and valuable feedback that greatly contributed to the successful dissemination of our work.

Congratulations to Dr. Nicole Kapelle, who was awarded a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Sociology from the University of Queensland in November 2020. Her thesis titled "May your wealth be easily divisible by two: Marital dissolution and personal wealth of German men and women over the life course" was supervised by Prof. Janeen Baxter, Dr. Sergi Vidal, and Prof. Philipp Lersch.

We wish you all a happy and healthy year 2021!

Welcome to Dr. Emanuela Struffolino

Philipp Lersch will be on parental leave from the 22th of September 2020 until the 21st of March 2021. We wish him all the best and a wonderful time. Also, we are happy to announce that he will be substituted by Emanuela Struffolino who will complement our research group's interesting research and teaching. She will be introducing herself in the following:




I am currently guest Professor of Social Policy (W2 Vertretungsprofessur) at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Institute of Social Sciences. Between April and September 2020, I was guest Professor of Macrosociology (W3 Vertretungsprofessur) at the Institute of Sociology at the Freie Universität Berlin.

I am long-term guest researcher at the research unit “Skill Formation and Labor Markets" at the WZB Berlin Social Science Center. Between 2015 and 2019 I was a postdoctoral fellow at research group “Demography and Inequality" Research Group at the WZB. I obtained my PhD in Sociology at the University of Milano-Bicocca and worked as research fellow at the Swiss National Centre for Competence in Research “LIVES - Overcoming vulnerability: A life-course perspective" at the University of Lausanne.

My research interests include life-course sociology, gender inequalities in the labor market, social stratification dynamics, poverty, and methods for longitudinal data. I am a member of the Executive Board of the SAA-Sequence Analysis Association (

You can find more information on my ongoing projects and publication at

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin | Department of Social Sciences | Sociology of Social Policy | News | Joint Colloqium "Sociology of Social Policy" and "Migration and Gender"

Joint Colloqium "Sociology of Social Policy" and "Migration and Gender"

This summer term 2020, the joint colloqium "Sociology of Social Politicss and "Migration and Gender" takes place regularly every Wednesday (4.45pm - 5.45 pm). The colloqium will be held online in Zoom. Please contact p.m.lersch (at) for access information. You can find the program here (pdf).

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin | Department of Social Sciences | Sociology of Social Policy | News | ECSR Network Workshop: Understanding Gender in Wealth Inequality - Call for Papers

ECSR Network Workshop: Understanding Gender in Wealth Inequality - Call for Papers

In October 2020 we will host a workshop on the topic "Gender and Wealth", which is funded by the European Consortium for Sociological Research. The abstract submission deadline is 30th April 2020. We are looking forward to reading your abstracts! Call for Papers (PDF)

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin | Department of Social Sciences | Sociology of Social Policy | News | Peer-reviewed article published in European Sociological Review [25.02.2020]

Peer-reviewed article published in European Sociological Review [25.02.2020]

The journal article “The Accumulation of Wealth in Marriage: Over-Time Change and Within-Couple Inequalities” by Nicole Kapelle and Philipp Lersch was published in the European Sociological Review (ESR). The study examines the accumulation of personal wealth of husbands and wives and investigates the development of within-couple wealth inequalities over time in marriage. Going beyond previous research, the paper conceptualized entry into marriage as a gendered life-course event that dynamically shapes husbands’ and wives’ wealth accumulation. Using data from the German Socio-Economic Panel Study (2002 - 2017) and fixed-effects regression models, the paper illustrates that wealth premiums are lower during early years of marriage, but increase steadily thereafter. Results from supplementary analyses with limited data, however, suggest that the premium may not be causal for men. Regarding within-couple wealth inequalities, the paper finds a pronounced within-couple wealth gap prior to marriage, which remains stable over time in marriage. In contrast to findings regarding income, the study indicates that the institution of marriage may not amplify within-couple wealth inequalities further.

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin | Department of Social Sciences | Sociology of Social Policy | News | New Research Project: Cohabition and Wealth in a cross German-French perspective [13.01.2020]

New Research Project: Cohabition and Wealth in a cross German-French perspective [13.01.2020]

At the 1st of January 2020 a new research project, founded by the DAAD, with the topic "The Cohabitation Wealth Premium: Comparing France, East and West Germany" started. In there, Philipp M. Lersch invesigates in cooperation with Marion Leturcq from the Institut national d’études démographiques the effects and consequences of cohabitation for wealth. In Europe, the stark increase in heterosexual cohabitation, i.e. women and men living together as a couple without being married, is one of the most important demographic changes in families in the last decades. The knowledge about how cohabitation, which is differently legally regulated and culturally accepted across social contexts, influences the life chances of individuals across these contexts is limited, however. In particular, the consequences of cohabitation for the economic wealth of couples are not clear. While marriage has been linked to a wealth premium, there is no evidence whether such positive consequences extend to cohabitation. Therefore, this timely and innovative project examines the association between cohabitation and wealth paying close attention to the distinct legal and cultural contexts in France, East, and West Germany.

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin | Department of Social Sciences | Sociology of Social Policy | News | Article featured in Special Issue of the ESR [18.09.2019]

Article featured in Special Issue of the ESR [18.09.2019]

Philipp M. Lersch, Marita Jacob and Karsten Hank have recently published an article in the new Virtual Special Issue of the European Sociological Review, which is a collection of outstanding research on the topic of “Inequality over the Life Course”. In the article “Parenthood, Gender, and Personal Wealth“ they analyse the gender-specific association between parenthood and the growth of personal wealth over time and find restrictions in the wealth accumulation of mothers compared to childless women and fathers. We are pleased to be featured next to other relevant and interesting articles!


Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin | Department of Social Sciences | Sociology of Social Policy | News | Our research group on the road... [18.07.2019]

Our research group on the road... [18.07.2019]

During this summer, we presented our research at several conferences and participated in different workshops. Daria Tisch showed the first results of our factorial survey experiment at an ECSR workshop in Stockholm in mid-May. She will also present these findings at the RC28 Social Stratification conference in August at Princeton University, USA. Later in May, Theresa Nutz spoke on employment trajectories and wealth at older ages at the workshop “New Social Risks and Pension Policies”, which took place at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin. Furthermore, Nicole Kapelle presented her research on the accumulation of wealth in marriage at the workshop “Money within the household: new frontiers in research, new directions for law and policy” at Oxford University in July.

manuelLISApart from presenting our research, we also focused on methodological and academic training. Manuel Schechtl participated in a workshop on financing public goods in Darmstadt in late June. In addition, he learned about the usage of harmonised data on income and wealth (LIS and LWS) in a one-week intensive course in Luxembourg. Daria Tisch acquired knowledge on how to use the programming language “Python” to analyze Big Data by participating in a workshop in Cologne in July.

We are thankful for the fruitful discussions following our presentations and look forward to including the feedback as well as our new knowledge in our further research.

First data collection completed [29.03.2019]

predictedfairnessIn August and September 2018, our module „Subjective Fairness of Within-Couple Inequalities in Ownership and Control of Savings“ was collected as part of the GESIS Panel. The GESIS Panel, a probability-based mixed-mode access panel, collects data every two months and offers the social science community an opportunity to collect survey data for their research projects.

In our study, we use a factorial survey experiment to examine the following question: How do individuals judge the fairness of different savings arrangements (ownership and control) within married couples? In order to answer this research question, the respondents were asked to evaluate five different scenarios of a hypothetical couple. The scenarios describe different degrees of inequality in ownership (i.e., who formally owns the savings) and control (i.e., who decides when and for what the savings are spent) of a couple’s savings. We have presented first results at the GESIS Panel User Conference in March 2019. The results show that respondents evaluate situations as fairest when spouses have a joint account with equal control. This suggests that the norm of marital sharing is widespread. Furthermore, we show that the control dimension is more important for fairness evaluation than the ownership dimension.

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin | Department of Social Sciences | Sociology of Social Policy | News | Workshop "Inequality within Couples" at the 1.10/2.10.2018

Workshop "Inequality within Couples" at the 1.10/2.10.2018

At the beginning of October our workshop took place at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. Over 30 participants from different disciplines  and countries discussed their recent research on economic inequalities within couples. Thanks to all participants for the interesting talks and the lively exchange. To stay in touch and further enhance the exchange,  we  established a mailing list ( This mailing list may be used to exchange news about call for papers, published papers, job opportunities as well as other ideas and announcements. Please subscribe to the mailing list by sending an e-mail with the subject "subscribe couple_inequality" (no content) to