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German Society and Social Structures

DIW Berlin has a long tradition of conducting research beyond core economic topics and covering important issues regarding Germany’s society and its social structures. Here you can find the institute’s English-language publications covering a wide range of topics such as the country’s education system, social mobility, and gender issues.
DIW Weekly Report 40 / 2021

20 Years of the Riester Pension - Personal Retirement Provision Requires Reform

Introduced 20 years ago as a part of the 2001 pension reform, the Riester pension is meant to function as an essential component of the German pension system with the aim of compensating for decreasing public pensions. However, data collected by the SOEP show that this objective has not yet been achieved. For ten years, use of the Riester pension plan has been stagnating at around 25 percent of the ...

  • DIW Weekly Report 5/6 / 2021

    LGBTQI* People in Germany Face Staggering Health Disparities

    Discrimination and rejection experienced by LGBTQI* people affect their mental health and, in the long term, their physical health as well. Survey data from the Socio-Economic Panel and Bielefeld University show that LGBTQI* people in Germany are affected by negative mental health outcomes three to four times more often than the rest of the population. Poor physical health that may be stress-related, ...

    2021| David Kasprowski, Mirjam Fischer, Xiao Chen, Lisa de Vries, Martin Kroh, Simon Kühne, David Richter, Zaza Zindel
  • DIW Weekly Report 44/45 / 2019

    A Comparison of Earnings Justice throughout Europe: Widespread Approval in Germany for Income Distribution According to Need and Equity

    The present study compares the perceptions of fairness of national earned incomes between the populations of Germany and the rest of Europe based on recent data from the European Social Survey (ESS). The vast majority of European respondents consider very low gross earned incomes to be unjustly low. By contrast, very high incomes are less frequently considered too high in Germany than they are in the ...

    2019| Jule Adriaans, Philipp Eisnecker, Stefan Liebig
  • DIW Weekly Report 17/18 / 2020

    Real Incomes Increasing, Low-Income Rate Decreasing in Individual Age Groups

    The number of employed persons in Germany has grown by over five million since 2000, in part due to an increase in immigration. This development is reflected in private household income, which has increased by 12 percent over the same period. Since 2013, all income groups have been benefiting from this increase and in 2015, the lowest income decile began benefiting as well. Disposable income inequality ...

    2020| Markus M. Grabka, Jan Goebel
  • DIW Weekly Report 10 / 2020

    The Gender Pay Gap Begins to Increase Sharply at Age of 30

    The gender pay gap increases with age: While the average gross hourly wage gap between male and female 30-year-olds is nine percent, the gap triples to 28 percent by the age of 50. This stark increase is due to differences in employment behavior in the decades between the ages of 30 and 50. Beginning at age 30, women often switch to part-time work to be able to provide childcare, whereas men tend to ...

    2020| Annekatrin Schrenker, Aline Zucco
  • DIW Weekly Report 46/47/48 / 2019

    100 Years of the Modern German Tax System: Foundation, Reforms, and Challenges

    The tax and fiscal reforms headed by German finance minister Matthias Erzberger in 1919 and 1920 fundamentally reshaped German public finances. The total tax revenue as a percentage of GDP, or tax-to-GDP ratio, doubled and increased continually until the end of World War II. Since the 1950s, the tax-to-GDP ratio has remained between 22 and 24 percent of GDP most of the time. West Germany’s economic ...

    2019| Stefan Bach
DIW Weekly Report 20/2018

Upward and downward Social Mobility Probabilities Have Converged for Men and Women

  • DIW Weekly Report 26/27 / 2019

    Fear of Stigmatization Prevents Individuals from Claiming Benefits

    The desire to avoid the shame of being dependent on government aid is often cited as a cause of low welfare take-up rates. In contrast to other obstacles, such as transaction costs or a lack of information, little empirical research has been conducted on how stigma affects social benefits take-up. In this Weekly Report, a controlled laboratory experiment is presented whose results support the following ...

    2019| Jana Friedrichsen, Renke Schmacker
  • DIW Weekly Report 34 / 2019

    At Opposite Poles: How the Success of the Green Party and AfD Reflects the Geographical and Social Cleavages in Germany

    German voters in the 2019 European election showed remarkable regional differences in their voting behavior. The Green Party surged in West German districts, while the AfD further consolidated its successes in East Germany. Investigating structural differences at the district level reveals that the Green party is particularly popular in economically strong, demographically young, and dynamic districts ...

    2019| Christian Franz, Marcel Fratzscher, Alexander S. Kritikos
  • DIW Weekly Report 25 / 2019

    Gender Pension Gaps in Europe Are More Explicitly Associated with Labor Markets than with Pension Systems

    In many European countries, there is a substantial gender pension gap. Yet, these gaps vary strongly across countries. This cross-national study examines to what extent institutional and labor market-specific factors correlate with gender pension gaps. The findings show that the gender pension gap tends to be larger in countries with larger gender-specific differences in the employment or part-time ...

    2019| Anna Hammerschmid, Carla Rowold
  • DIW Weekly Report 28/29 / 2019

    Minimum Wage: Many Entitled Employees in Germany Still Do Not Receive It

    There has been a universal statutory minimum wage in Germany for a good four years, but many employees still do not receive it. This is the finding of new calculations based on the Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP), which have updated noncompliance with the minimum wage for 2017. Even conservative calculations indicate that around 1.3 million people who are entitled to the minimum wage receive a lower wage ...

    2019| Alexandra Fedorets, Markus M. Grabka, Carsten Schröder
  • Weekly Report

    The Low-Wage Sector in Germany Is Larger Than Previously Assumed

    by  Markus M. Grabka and Carsten Schröder The total number of dependent employees in Germany has increased by more than four million since the financial crisis. Part of this growth took place in the low-wage sector. Analyses based on data from the Socio-Economic Panel, which in 2017 for the first time include detailed information on secondary employment, show that there were around nine ...

    03.04.2019| Markus M. Grabka, Carsten Schröder
  • DIW Weekly Report 4/5/6 / 2019

    Language Skills and Employment Rate of Refugees in Germany Improving with Time

    Asylum seekers migrating to Germany remains a hotly debated topic. The second wave of a longitudinal survey of refugees shows that their integration has progressed significantly, even though some refugees came to Germany in poor health and with little formal education. Compared to the previous year, refugees’ German skills have improved, as have their participation rates in the workforce, education, ...

    2019| Herbert Brücker, Johannes Croisier, Yuliya Kosyakova, Hannes Kröger, Giuseppe Pietrantuono, Nina Rother, Jürgen Schupp
  • Weekly Report

    Women on high-level boards of banks and insurance companies: growth coming to a standstill on supervisory boards

    By Elke Holst and Katharina Wrohlich The proportion of women on executive boards of the 100 largest banks stagnated at almost nine percent in 2018. In the 60 largest insurance companies, the proportion increased by a good percentage point to almost ten percent. While growth on executive boards has been weakening in past years, it is now slowing down on supervisory boards in the financial sector as ...

    18.01.2019| Elke Holst, Katharina Wrohlich
  • Weekly Report

    In Germany, Younger, Better Educated Persons, and Lower Income Groups Are More Likely to Be in Favor of Unconditional Basic Income

    by  Jule Adriaans, Stefan Liebig and Juergen Schupp Representative survey results have shown a stable approval rate for implementing unconditional basic income of between 45 and 52 percent in Germany since 2016/17. In European comparison, this approval rate is low. Younger, better educated persons, and those at risk of poverty support the concept of unconditional basic income in Germany. But ...

    10.04.2019| Jule Adriaans, Stefan Liebig, Jürgen Schupp
  • Weekly Report

    Strong Correlation between Large Gender Pay Gaps and Non-Linear Pay in Certain Occupations

    by Aline Zucco The gender pay gap of 21 percent in Germany is partly due to the fact that men and women work in different occupations. However, considerable pay gaps between men and women can also be observed within occupations, although the gap is not constant across occupations. In particular, there is a substantial gender pay gap in occupations with non-linear earnings, i.e. earnings increase non-linearly ...

    11.03.2019| Aline Zucco
  • Research Project

    Labor Market and Welfare Effects of Family Policy – A Microsimulation Study für Germany 

    Recurring Project| Public Economics
  • Press Release

    Immigration from other EU countries has increased Germany’s economic growth since 2011

    Since 2011, over five million immigrants from other EU countries have immigrated to Germany – A DIW Berlin simulation shows that this immigration has increased GDP growth by an average of 0.2 percentage points every year – More needs to be done to improve employment opportunities for the highly qualified, for example by simplifying the procedures for recognizing foreign qualifications, ...

  • DIW Weekly Report 42 / 2018

    Refugees in Germany with Children Still Living Abroad Have Lowest Life Satisfaction

    Family strongly influences personal well-being—especially in the case of refugees, whose family members often remain in their homeland. This report is the first to closely examine the well-being and family structures of refugees who came to Germany between January 2013 and January 2016. It uses data from the IAB-BAMF-SOEP Survey of Refugees in Germany. Among individuals aged between 18 and 49, nine ...

    2018| Ludovica Gambaro, Michaela Kreyenfeld, Diana Schacht, C. Katharina Spieß
  • Press Release

    AfD received more votes in the parliamentary election in rural areas with aging populations

    DIW Berlin study analyzes the correlation between the AfD's vote performance and different economic and sociodemographic variables at an electoral district level – The AfD performed well in western German electoral districts where there are many employees in the manufacturing industry and where incomes are low – In the eastern districts they performed better where there is a large share ...

  • Research Project

    Great Expectations? Germany's Recovery from the Great Depression, 1932-1936

    Completed Project| Macroeconomics
  • DIW Weekly Report 13/14 / 2018

    Household Consumption and Savings Rate Depend Strongly on Employment Status, Income, and Age

    On what and to what extent private households in Germany spend money varies significantly depending on employment status, income, and age. As this study based on the most current official sample survey of income and expenditure from 2013 shows, unemployed households on average spend over half of their income on basic needs such as living and food expenses while unemployed people living alone spend ...

    2018| Karl Brenke, Jan Pfannkuche
  • DIW Economic Bulletin 51/52 / 2017

    Children from Migrant Backgrounds: Who Are Their Kita Peers?

    In Germany, attendance in early childhood education and care (ECEC) centers has soared in the last twenty years, making them a key context in which children learn. For children from migrant backgrounds who speak a foreign language at home, participation in ECEC has the potential of providing them with early German language exposure. One important but often overlooked factor in this respect is the composition ...

    2017| Ludovica Gambaro
  • DIW Economic Bulletin 43 / 2017

    Gender Pay Gap Varies Greatly by Occupation

    The German labor market is characterized by marked occupational segregation between women and men. The median earnings in female dominated occupations are lower than those in male dominated professions. This is one of the reasons for the gender pay gap. However, there are also large differences in earnings between men and women within occupations. These profession-specific gender pay gaps are smaller ...

    2017| Katharina Wrohlich, Aline Zucco
  • Press Release

    New studies from DIW Berlin emphasize the importance of day care facilities quality for children's development

    Children from families who do not speak German as their main language at home often attend childcare facilities with children in similar situations – Policies providing financial incentives for facilities with a minimum percentage of children from migrant backgrounds shouldn’t be encouraged – Separate study shows that quality is strongly influenced by children's social behavior – ...

  • DIW Economic Bulletin 33/34/35 / 2017

    Income, Social Support Networks, Life Satisfaction: Lesbians, Gays, and Bisexuals in Germany

    Towards the very end of this legislative period, a cross-caucus parliamentary majority gave same-sex marriage the green light – progress for the legal equality of homosexuals in Germany. This report focuses on the life situations of homosexual and bisexual people in Germany. The careers they pursue, for example, differ from those of heterosexuals. Hourly wages are an area of significant disparity: ...

    2017| Martin Kroh, Simon Kühne, Christian Kipp, David Richter
  • DIW Economic Bulletin 33/34/35 / 2017

    Increased Labor Market Participation Can't Do the Job of Mastering Germany's Demographic Change in the Future

    In the last decade the available labor force has expanded in Germany—despite the decline in the working-age population. The reason: labor market participation has increased, for women in particular and older people in general. Also noticeable was a rise in qualification level because well-educated people have a particularly high propensity to participate in the labor market. Most recently, Germany’s ...

    2017| Karl Brenke, Marius Clemens
  • DIW Economic Bulletin 27 / 2017

    Income Groups and Types of Employment in Germany since 1995

    This report examines how income groups and forms of employment in Germany have changed in the past two decades. Since the mid-1990s, inequality in disposable household income in Germany has generally increased. This trend was in effect until 2005. While fewer people had disposable incomes in the median range, the proportion of the population at both tails of the income distribution increased. At the ...

    2017| Peter Krause, Christian Franz, Marcel Fratzscher
  • DIW Economic Bulletin 22/23 / 2017

    The Gender Gap in Competitiveness: Women Shy away from Competing with Others, but Not from Competing with Themselves

    Women are less willing than men to compete against others. This gender gap can partially explain the differences between women’s and men’s education and career choices, and the labor market disparities that result. The experiments presented here show that even though women are less willing than men to compete against others, they are just as willing as men are to take on the challenge of improving ...

    2017| Johanna Mollerstrom, Katharina Wrohlich
  • DIW Economic Bulletin 16/17 / 2017

    In 2016, around One-Third of People in Germany Donated for Refugees and Ten Percent Helped out on Site—yet Concerns Are Mounting

    The presence of refugees in Germany and the challenges their integration poses have preoccupied the public for the past two years. According to the latest data of the Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP), many more people in Germany were concerned about migration and xenophobia last year than in 2013. The additional representative results of the Barometer of Public Opinion on Refugees in Germany in 2016 and ...

    2017| Jannes Jacobsen, Philipp Eisnecker, Jürgen Schupp
  • Press Release

    World Happiness Day: SOEP data show that life satisfaction of Eastern Germans is catching up

    People across Germany are happier today than at any other point since German reunification According to a new analysis of data from the nationally representative, long-term Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) study, people in both West and East Germany have been happier on average since 2015 than at any other point since German reunification (Figure 1). The substantial increase in life satisfaction from 1990 ...

  • DIW Weekly Report 37 / 2018

    Inequality of Earnings in Germany Generally Accepted but Low Incomes Considered Unfair

    Earnings differences are a recurring topic of public discussion in Germany. Data from the long-term Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) study as well as a separate survey of German employees (LINOS) show that earnings inequalities are generally perceived as fair while a substantial share of the respondents find the current earnings distribution in Germany unfair. This applies above all to the middle and lower ...

    2018| Jule Adriaans, Stefan Liebig
  • DIW Weekly Report 34/35 / 2018

    Differences in Full-Time Work Experience Explain almost a Quarter of the Gender Pay Gap in Management Positions

    Women still earn less than men on average in Germany. This applies to management positions even more: between 2010 and 2016, there was an average gender pay gap of 30 percent in gross hourly earnings. If gender-specific differences in relevant wage determinants are excluded, a pay gap of 11 percent remains. With seven percentage points, full-time work experience explains the gender pay gap to almost ...

    2018| Elke Holst, Anne Marquardt
  • DIW Weekly Report 10 / 2019

    Also on Sundays, Women Perform Most of the Housework and Child Care

    Paid and unpaid work are still distributed very unequally between men and women in Germany. Regardless of time restrictions imposed by gainful employment, there is a gender- specific gap in time spent on housework and child care (gender care gap). The total volume of paid and unpaid work on weekdays is roughly the same for men and women (approx. 11 hours), although women perform more unpaid and men ...

    2019| Claire Samtleben
  • DIW Weekly Report 4/5 / 2020

    Proportion of Women on Top-Decision Making Bodies of Large Companies Increasing, Except on Supervisory Boards in the Financial Sector

    The share of women on executive boards of large companies in Germany has increased somewhat more strongly than in previous years. The top 200 companies reached the ten percent mark for the first time: women held 14 more board positions than in the previous year, 94 out of 907. Growth was also somewhat more dynamic on the executive boards of the largest listed companies and companies with government- ...

    2020| Anja Kirsch, Katharina Wrohlich