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Inhaltsbereich: Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung

Social protection in changing times

Department

Working Group

Research task

Recently, there has been an intense debate in politics and the public about changes in the German social security system. This debate is about how social security in case of unemployment, low income and old age can be further developed and about the general topics of qualifying conditions, target group orientation, universalism

(unconditional basic income) as well as justice-related aspects such as recognition of life-time achievements.
The debate is taking place in view of a social and economic change: digitisation, demographic change (in particular increasing average age), migration, a changed labour market (e.g. atypical employment) and changed employment histories. Above all, this development means that the structure and size of those groups of persons who are to be granted social security is changing. The possible ways out of unemployment and the types of neediness are shifting. This leads to new challenges for practical support measures. Eventually, the change processes may also involve shifts in the financial bases and/or the acceptance of certain benefits in the population.

Thus, questions regarding the basic principles of the welfare state arise. Various approaches and paradigms are discussed in the context of socio-political research using the keywords of activating, social-investing, enabling or inclusive social policy.  In the subject area of social security in case of unemployment or in professional life that is relevant for the IAB, the way social security is designed is discussed, and furthermore what support benefits and obligations to cooperate, if any, are planned and what consequences these have regarding the situation, perspective and chances of the affected persons.

The core of the focus topic “social security in changing times” is social security in case of unemployment and social security for the working population with low income. The IAB comprehensively researches the role of unemployment insurance as well as, in particular, the situation and biographies of those receiving basic benefits for job-seekers as the largest social security system for those fit for work. The different groups of persons with specific risks as well as instable employment histories with frequent phases of unemployment and periods of atypical employment or employment with low wages are important in this context. Therefore, the question regarding the role upstream benefits such as unemployment insurance, housing assistance, and children’s allowance (can) play for securing such constellations, besides providing basic benefits, arises. Another question is how this affects downstream benefits (social assistance or basic benefits in case of reduced earning capacity and old age) and what strategies there are to stabilise employment histories, for example, by providing further training and counselling during one’s professional life.

In addition to that, there are questions regarding the basic principles of social security and the counselling, support and placement process as well as the relevance of social security and the tax and transfer system for the development of social inequality. Moreover, the perceptions of justice and the acceptance of social state benefits and principles in the population are relevant.

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