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Einkommensumverteilung als Instrument der Sozialpolitik in der DDR

Vierteljahrshefte zur Wirtschaftsforschung 3 / 1975, S. 176-186

Heinz Vortmann


In the GDR, personal income and consumption are subject to state levies (direct and indirect taxes, social security contributions). On the other side of the ledger, monies are dispersed among the population in the form of public income transfers and subsidies. The impact of these redistribution measures for various socio-economic groups (employees, members of cooperatives, self-employed persons, and pension recipients) is the subject of this study. Introductory remarks include general observations regarding the significance and extent of benefit dispersments. The following are the most important findings: (1) Social benefits in the GDR (public income transfers, social projects and services, subsidies in the form of consumer price supports) totaled 35 billion marks in 1973. This represents 14.7 percent of the Net National Product at market prices (comparable West German figure: 22.6 percent). Public income transfers' share of disposable incomes in the same year was 17.5 percent (FRG: 21. 1 percent). (2) The balance between the total direct burden (direct taxation, social security contributions) and income benefits (public income transfers) is negative for all groups within the labor force, but is relatively small for employees and members of cooperatives (< 5 percent of gross incomes). The self-employed constitute an exception; their negative balance runs as high as 30 percent of gross incomes. Only pension recipients have a positive balance, it comprising their entire income. (3) The direct and indirect taxes and the subsidies have a leveling effect on the income distribution (and personal consumption) in the labor force. By contrast, public income transfers are distributed by and large irrespective of social or income status, and social security contributions impose a greater burden on lower and middle income groups than on large income earners. The combined effect of these measures is a tendency toward a leveling of personal income and consumption among all groups of the labor force. This tendency is by far strongest with regard to the self-employed, is felt moderately by employees, and less by members of cooperatives.