Welcome to my webpage!

I am a PhD Candidate in the Department of Economics at Brown University. In September 2023, I will join the Economics Department of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

In my job market papers, I focus on empirical and theoretical questions of economic inequality. My first job market paper shows how population aging and cohort replacement affect the evolution of household income inequality in the United States (JMP 1). My second job market paper proposes an axiomatically motivated decomposition of the Gini coefficient into within-group and between-group inequality terms (JMP 2).

My research interests include economic growth, demographic economics, macroeconomics, and political economy. Currently, I use online experiments to study affective polarization in the United Kindom, and I explore the macroeconomic effects of improvements in the allocation of talent using administrative data from Finland. I also have published (predoctoral) research on measuring son-biased fertility preferences in Armenia.

You can find my CV here. Please reach out to me at matthias_schief@brown.edu.

Matthias Schief


Department of Economics
Brown University


Research Papers

Population Aging, Cohort Replacement, and the Evolution of Income Inequality in the United States with Vesa-Matti Heikkuri (Job Market Paper 1) [most recent version]

We study how demographic change affects the evolution of household income inequality in the United States both historically and prospectively. We emphasize the distinct roles played by population aging and cohort replacement, and develop a methodology to study their joint compositional effect on income inequality. In the process, we also develop a novel methodology to aggregate sub-population Gini coefficients into a population-level Gini coefficient based on the principle of maximum entropy. We find that rising income inequality is embodied in birth cohorts born since the mid-20th century and that most of the increase in inequality over the past two decades can be accounted for by demographic change. Furthermore, we predict that demographic change over the next two decades will lead to further increase of the income Gini coefficient by one to six percentage points.

Subgroup Decomposition of the Gini Coefficient: A New Solution to an Old Problem with Vesa-Matti Heikkuri (Job Market Paper 2) [most recent version]

We study inequality decomposition by population subgroups. We define properties of a satisfactory decomposition and ask what these properties imply for the decomposition of familiar inequality indices. We find that the Gini coefficient, the generalized entropy indices, and the Foster-Shneyerov indices all admit satisfactory decomposition formulas derived from a common set of axioms. While our axiomatic approach recovers the known decomposition formulas for the generalized entropy and the Foster-Shneyerov indices, it leads us to a novel decomposition formula for the Gini coefficient. The decomposition of the Gini coefficient can be easily computed, has both a geometric and an arithmetic intuition, and behaves better compared to existing decomposition formulas for the Gini coefficient.

Research Papers in Progress

  • The Mechanisms underlying Affective Polarization. An Experimental Study with Devesh Rustagi
  • Institutional Changes and the Allocation of Talent. Macroeconomic Effects of a School Reform in Finland with Vesa-Matti Heikkuri and Cosimo Petracchi
  • Tight Bounds for the Gini Coefficient of Composite Populations with Vesa-Matti Heikkuri
  • Success-biased Cultural Evolution in a Panel of Countries


Investigating the Structure of Son Bias in Armenia With Novel Measures of Individual Preferences. Matthias Schief, Sonja Vogt, and Charles Efferson. Demography. 2021; 58 (5):1737-1764. [doi]

Plain Academic