Eighty per cent of those registered unemployed are available for work - although some not straight away. One in five unemployed people, however, no longer want to work. This conclusion was reached by the DIW Berlin in its latest weekly report 22/2002, which presented up-to-date data from surveys by the DIW's Socio-Economic Panel. Sixty per cent of those unemployed would prefer to return to work immediately. This willingness to work increases, if the unemployed are offered jobs which match their requirements: seventy per cent of those unemployed would accept such a job. Distance to the job market is a particularly strong factor for older unemployed people, because they often see unemployment as a transitional stage preceding legal retirement. One fourth of unemployed western German women with children only want to return work at a later date - even if they were offered a job immediately, they would not take it.
Analysing the overall satisfaction among the unemployed surveyed shows a certain habituation to unemployment. Those who do not want to get a job - mainly the more elderly unemployed - are generally more satisfied with their situation than other unemployed people. The DIW Berlin also examined income satisfaction. The evaluated net household income demand and thus income satisfaction were highest among those unemployed who did not wish to work any more.
The DIW Berlin points to the fact that unemployed people aged 50 or over benefit more from the social welfare system. They receive unemployment benefits for a fairly long period of time and do not have to work after reaching their 58th birthday. This may encourage employers to make a pact with their more elderly employees - paid for by national insurance contributors - to reduce the average age of their workforce and thus minimise the risk of suits for wrongful dismissal. Women with children also take - quite understandably - advantage of the social security benefits available to them. According to the DIW Berlin, there is a danger that rising monetary transfers will encourage these women to remain unemployed. The number of crèche facilities should instead be improved.