Press Releases

Current and older Press Releases concerning SOEP
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21 May 2019

A refugee’s personality is one of the factors which decides how successful integration is

An increased willingness to take risks, reciprocating friendliness, and a conviction that they are in control of their own lives lead to refugees gaining a foothold in Germany faster.  

Refugees who are more willing to take risks, who tend to reciprocate friendliness, and who are more strongly convinced than others are that they are in control of their lives integrate into society faster. This is the result of a study undertaken on the basis of the “IAB-BAMF-SOEP Survey of Refugees in Germany” which researchers from the Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) at the German Institute of Economic Research (DIW) devised in conjunction with researchers from the University of the Saarland and the University of Münster. The study was published recently in the “Collabra: Psychology” journal.

16 January 2018

Gross income gap has increased since reunification

The top 10% of income earners in Germany earn almost as much as the middle 40% – the top 1%’s share of national income has increased from eight to 13 percent since 1995.

The share of national income belonging to the top 1% of income earners has grown significantly in Germany since the mid-1990s, while the share earned by the bottom 50% has significantly decreased. These are the main findings of a study by DIW Berlin economist Charlotte Bartels based on income tax data for Germany for the World Inequality Report.

4 January 2018

Gert G. Wagner celebrates his 65th birthday, leaves position on DIW Berlin's executive board

Gert G. Wagner, who served as a member of the German Institute for Economic Research's executive board from 2011 to 2017, will celebrate his 65th birthday on January 5. The economist and social scientist was the head of the Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) research infrastructure at DIW Berlin from 1989 to 2011 and developed it into the largest and longest-running long-term study on social and economic conditions in Germany. Wagner is leaving his position as a member of DIW Berlin's executive board in January but will remain at the institute as a Visiting Senior Research Fellow. He will shift the focus of his future research activities to the Max Planck Institute for Human Development (Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung), where he has been a Max Planck Fellow since 2008.

1 December 2017

Stefan Liebig, new board member at the German Institute for Economic Research as of 2018

On January 1, 2018, Liebig will become director of the Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) and a member of the institute’s Executive Board

Stefan Liebig, a professor of sociology at Bielefeld University, will succeed Gert G. Wagner as a member of the German Institute for Economic Research’s Executive Board on January 1, 2018. Having reached retirement age, Wagner (64) is relinquishing his position. Fellow Executive Board members Marcel Fratzscher and Angelica E. Röhr will continue as president and managing director, respectively. At the beginning of 2018, Liebig will also take over as director of the Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) research infrastructure at DIW Berlin. Jürgen Schupp, the current director, will remain at SOEP as its deputy director and Gert G. Wagner will join as “Visiting Senior Research Fellow.”

13 November 2017

Alumnus of the DIW Graduate Center awarded tenured professorship at Cornell University

Nicolas R. Ziebarth (35), a student of the DIW Graduate Center’s first class, was promoted to “Associate Professor with indefinite tenure” in the Department for Policy Analysis and Management at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York (USA). Ziebarth’s area of research is applied health and labor economics.

22 March 2017

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 levels is primarily the result of the catch-up process in East Germany. Yet even 25 years after reunification, the level of life satisfaction in East Germany is still substantially below that in West Germany (Figure 2).

“Although it’s sobering that there is still a difference between East and West, the gap has diminished significantly over the years and is lower now than ever before,” says SOEP Director Jürgen Schupp, who conducted the analysis.

4 October 2016

People in Germany still more than willing to show solidarity with EU countries in crisis

A study by DIW Berlin shows that almost half the adult population of Germany believes helping EU countries in crisis is the right course of action—around 30 percent oppose it—cuts in welfare spending in the crisis countries are also criticized

Contrary to the image often presented, many people living in Germany support German aid for EU countries in financial crisis. In the second half of 2015, 48 percent of adults considered it to be the right course of action for Germany to help other EU member countries. Around 30 percent opposed this and 20 percent were indifferent. These are the findings of a joint study by the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) and Leipzig University, based on data from the Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP). Compared with earlier surveys by Eurobarometer, popular support has not diminished since 2010. Authors Holger Lengfeld, Professor of Sociology at Leipzig University, and Martin Kroh, Deputy Head of SOEP, said that, “Although the financial crisis escalated considerably in some southern European countries during this period and in some years, notably during the Greek crisis, there were a whole host of negative headlines, people are still very willing to show solidarity.”

7 September 2016

Study on past refugees helps develop possible solutions for future integration

Social scientists and economists at DIW Berlin and Humboldt University Berlin researched the integration of refugees who arrived in Germany between 1990 and 2010 – survey data indicate difficult starting conditions with employment and language skills compared to other migrants, but refugees were able to catch up over time

How can we help refugees to successfully integrate into Germany society – especially those migrants who’ve arrived as part of the major influx from the past two years? In order to answer this question, a group of social scientists and economists at the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) and Humboldt University Berlin took a look into the recent past. Their key finding: after initial difficulties, refugees who came to Germany between the years 1990 and 2010 were eventually able to catch up to other migrants in terms of employment and language skills.

6 May 2016

Decline of middle class in Germany comparable to that of the US

Please note: this is a corrected version of the original press release.

DIW Berlin study compares proportion of middle-class individuals over time in Germany and US - share declining in both countries - average income has dropped since 2000

The middle class in both the US and Germany is on the decline: according to a study conducted by the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin), the share of middle-class individuals in the total population sank in both countries by more than five percent between 1991 and 2013. The “middle class” comprises all adults whose total household income—before taxes and social security contributions—falls between 67 and 200 percent of the median, which separates the higher-income half from the lower-income half of the population.

29 February 2016

More German workers would like to work from home - but not enough are permitted to do so

One out of every three workers would prefer to work from home, but only one out of every eight actually does – Germany’s proportion of home workers lags behind that of other European countries – home workers are more satisfied with their jobs – reconciling career and family is not the primary motive

In Germany, only twelve percent of all employees work primarily or even partially from home, even though many employees believe they do not need to be in the office in order to do their jobs. Many more employees would like to work from home—even if only every once in a while—but in most cases, their employers forbid them from doing so. If employers were to reconsider their policies, the proportion of home workers could increase to 30 percent. These are the key findings of a recent study conducted by the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) and published in the DIW Economic Bulletin 8/2016.

9 September 2015

25 years of German Unity: Political orientations still different in East Germany and West Germany

Discrepancies primarily in party affiliation and voter turnout –attitudes toward the welfare state are converging – support for the Left Party remains marginal in the West

Twenty-five years after reunification, East and West Germans continue to show clear differences in their political preferences. This is the result of an analysis carried out by the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin). The investigation covers the years 1990 to 2014 and is based on the most recent data from the long-term Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) study, collected by DIW Berlin in partnership with TNS Infratest Sozialforschung; official data from the Federal and State Election Officials; and data from the German General Social Survey (ALLBUS).

"Even though two East Germans—Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Joachim Gauck—hold the top political positions in Germany, there only limited signs of unity in citizens’ political attitudes and their participation in the political process," explains Martin Kroh, Deputy Head of the SOEP at DIW Berlin, Professor of Political Science at Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, and one of the authors of this study.

1 April 2015

Individuals in need of long-term care are heavily dependent on public transfer payments

Few assets in comparison to the rest of the population—those living alone are particularly affected

So-called “care households”—that is, households in which a person over the age of 60 and in need of long-term care resides—have similar household incomes to “non-care households,” in which no care-dependent person lives. But care-dependent individuals are more heavily dependent on public transfers; furthermore their assets are considerably less than those of individuals who do not require care. In particular, care households in which a care-dependent person lives alone have relatively meager financial resources—yet they make up over 40 percent of all care households. These are the key findings of a recent study by the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) based on its long-term Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) survey. "The greater reliance on public transfer payments carries risks for future generations, because the pension levels are going to decrease in the future," says DIW pension expert Johannes Geyer, who studied the income and assets situation of care-dependent individuals in private households and compared it with that of the rest of the population aged 60 and over.

20 March 2015

The Gender Pay Gap in leadership positions in the private sector: Women earned roughly 22 percent less than men in 2013

Although it has decreased slightly, the pay gap between women and men remains at a high level: In 2013, the gross salary of women employed full-time in leadership positions in the private sector was roughly 22 percent, or one-fifth, of the gross salary of men in such positions. In 2012, the so-called Gender Pay Gap stood at 24 percent; in 2002, it stood at 26 percent. These calculations are based on data from the long-term study conducted by the Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) at the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) on the occasion of Equal Pay Day on March 20. "Discrimination against women in the labor market, along with the pressures they face in terms of reconciling family obligations with their professional lives, are important reasons why the gender pay gap in our society urgently needs to be corrected,” said Elke Holst, DIW’s Research Director for Gender Studies. The pay gap between women and men employed in full-time positions stood, in terms of gross hourly earnings, at 17 percent in 2013, according to data from the Federal Statistical Office in 2013.

18 February 2015

Tax and Transfer System: Current Redistribution Mainly through Social Insurance

The German tax and transfer system ensures that the net incomes of its citizens are distributed much more evenly than market income. Much of this redistribution takes place through the social security system. However, the majority of government benefits do not go to financially needy households. Tax expert Stefan Bach summarizes the key findings of a recent study conducted by the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin): “While income is properly redistributed in Germany, apart from basic social security, many transfers also go to middle-class or even to wealthy citizens.”

18 February 2015

Private Spending on Children’s Education: Low-Income Families Pay Relatively More

DIW study takes broader approach to expenditure on education: in addition to spending on child daycare services and schools, expenditure on non-formal educational provisions such as leisure activities is also captured – researchers recommend linking contributions to income

Families who spend money on their children’s education face a heavier financial burden, the lower their income: while the corresponding share of monthly income in the lower fifth of the income distribution is around four percent, it drops to just over three percent for higher-income families. If families spending no money on education, either because they do not use the provisions or because they are exempt from paying contributions, are also included, the share of expenditure on education, however, increases with income. These are the findings of a new study by the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin), which is based on data from the Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) study and the SOEP-related study Families in Germany (Familien in Deutschland, FiD). According to the researchers’ calculations, each family in Germany with children under the age of 16 – including the 23 percent of families who spend no money on education – spends an average of approximately 93 euros per month on various educational provisions such as child daycare, private tuition, or leisure activities such as sports clubs or music lessons. Those families with expenditures for such provisions spend around 120 euros per month. “Families pay a considerable share of spending on education out of their own pocket. This is all the more true if the concept of education is broadly defined. The broad definition includes spending on formal educational provisions such as child daycare services and fee-paying schools and on informal and non-formal provisions such as in-home daycare providers or sports clubs and music lessons,” say the authors of the study Carsten Schröder, C. Katharina Spieß, and Johanna Storck.

27 May 2014

Unemployment Also Affects Partners

Unemployment affects the mental health of partners almost as much as that of the unemployed person. The impact on mental health does not depend on which partner is unemployed: both women and men suffer from their partner being unemployed. These are the findings of a study conducted by DIW Berlin on the basis of data from the Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP) which looked at couples affected by unemployment due to business closures. The findings show that the costs of unemployment for the health system are underestimated if the impact on partners is not considered.

7 May 2014

Work-Retirement Transition Pathways: Reforms Have Major Impact

Germany's draft bill to improve the benefits provided under the statutory pension insurance scheme (Gesetz über Leistungsverbesserungen in der gesetzlichen Rentenversicherungen) will entitle, in particular, those who have contributed for many years (at least 45) to retire early on a full pension (without any reductions to their pension payments) at the age of 63. The proposed reform is in stark contrast to the pension policies of past decades, even though the German government maintains it has no intention of changing course and still plans to pursue its objective of raising the retirement age. It is not currently possible to predict the effects of a statutory retirement age of 63. What is certain, however, is that statutory work-pension transition options and labor market policy framework conditions will have a significant impact on when people make the transition from working life to retirement. The German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) analyzed the impact of pension reforms over the last 20 years on the work-retirement transition of those born between 1932 and 1947. The study analyzed the retirement dynamic between 1990 and 2012 based on representative data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP). While official German Pension Insurance statistics primarily provide information on retirement age and type of pension, SOEP allows detailed analyses of developments in the phase leading up to retirement. A cluster analysis was used to identify typical work-retirement transition pathways and to examine the impact of labor market and pension policy framework conditions on the relative significance of these pathways in a comparison of cohorts. A further analysis was conducted to determine how the phase leading up to retirement changes between the ages of 58 and 65 in the cohort comparison. There are typically five pathways that characterize the work-retirement transition: in employment until statutory retirement age, in employment until early retirement, inactivity prior to retirement, unemployment prior to retirement, and early retirement or reduced earnings capacity pension. The work-retirement transition behavior of eastern and western Germans differs significantly. Findings clearly show that when options for early retirement exist, they are also used.

30 April 2014

Quality of Day Care Center Affects Children's Health

Previous studies on the impact of day care center attendance on child development have focused on quantitative aspects (e. g., capacity of the center). Yet the quality of a day care center is also relevant and is increasingly being discussed in the context of day care expansion. The discussion is often limited, however, to improving children?s skills and rarely addresses their health, although this is a key factor in their age-appropriate development. A study by DIW Berlin using data from the Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP) and official child and youth services data (KJH-Statistik) shows that regional differences in the quality of day care centers affect the development of children?s health. Preschool children attending a day care center with a high child-staff-ratio are more likely to be sick at the age of five and six. The study also demonstrates that entering early childhood care at four years of age or later increases the probability of illness at the ages of five or six, compared to children attending at a younger age.

2 April 2014

Who Cares? The Significance of Informal Care by the Working Population in Germany

The daughter and son who take care of their parents or look after their neighbor who is no longer mobile while working at the same time: informal care is a central pillar of the German care system—particularly with regard to the aging population and the resultant increase in the demand for care. Between five and six percent of all adults regularly provide informal care according to DIW Berlin’s calculations for the years 2001 to 2012 on the basis of data from the Socio Economic Panel Study (SOEP). Around 60 percent of these women and men are of working age. The proportion of people in employment among all informal carers below 65 years of age has risen from just under 53 to almost 66 percent. The increase was greater among full time than part time employees although those in fulltime work combine caregiving and career significantly less frequently on average. The question arises how work and caregiving could be better reconciled because the need for (informal) care will continue to increase due to demographic change.The present report shows that informal carers are less satisfied in general and also with social security than those who do not provide informal care. However, the data give no indication that working at the same time amplifies this effect.

26 February 2014

Persistently High Wealth Inequality in Germany

According to current analyses based on the Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP), the total net assets of German households in 2012 amounted to 6.3 trillion euros. Almost 28 percent of the adult population had no or even negative net worth. On average, individual net worth in 2012 totaled more than 83,000 euros; that is slightly more than ten years previously. The degree of wealth inequality remained virtually unchanged. With a Gini coefficient of 0.78, Germany has a high degree of wealth inequality compared to other countries and there is still a wide gap between western and eastern Germany, almost 25 years after unification. In 2012, the average net worth of eastern Germans was less than half that of western Germans.

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