Sozial- und Verteilungspolitik

WSI: Key research topics: Social inequality, social (des-)integration and social policy

Research is concerned with welfare state and social policy changes, structural causes for the increase in social inequality, and the search for possibilities to foster a fairer distribution of life chances.

Public social policy faces great pressure to adapt to challenges arising from the increasing individualisation of life courses and the expansion of often precarious forms of non-standard employment. The growing importance of privatised and corporate social policy implies new challenges not only for individual citizens, but also for social partners on the corporate and state level. Building on a critical empirical evaluation of existing framework and regulations in Germany and across Europe, WSI research seeks to uncover shortcomings in the regulatory environment and develop reform proposals based on an all-embracing notion of social security.

Main research topics

changing welfare state and social security systems - health and pension policies - poverty, distribution of life chances - redistribution policy, redistribution of income and assets - redistribution effects of taxation and social policy

Selected Publications

Hövermann, Andreas : The AfD's Polling High

This report uses ten survey waves by the WSI Labour Force Panel to analyse the willingness to vote for the AfD. In addition to voter migration, AfD voters are profiled in terms of demographic and labour-related characteristics as well as their concerns, confidence and perspective on the pandemic and the war in Ukraine. The report also analyses how new AfD voters differ from established regular voters. AfD voters are uniformly characterised as highly stressed, distrustful and highly concerned. Limiting immigration appears to be the unifying theme that also appeals to new groups of AfD voters who share other AfD positions less strongly and have not yet built up too much trust in the AfD.

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Brülle, Jan / Spannagel, Dorothee : WSI Distribution Report 2023: Income inequality as a threat to democracy

The everyday experiences and opportunities of people in Germany depend crucially on their income. Income inequality becomes a social problem at the latest when it contributes to the alienation of individual groups from the democratic system. Based on the persistently high level of income inequality, the report traces the different realities of people's lives and makes it clear that if people no longer feel valued by society and lose trust in the political system, then democracy also suffers as a result.

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Florian Blank, 24.02.2021 : The Emergence of Consumer Organisations in the Field of Social Policy

What does the introduction of market mechanisms in welfare provision mean? Evidence gathered from the agendas of the committee for labour and social affairs and the committee for health of the Federal Parliament 1990–2017 shows that consumers’ interests are represented by consumer organizations, but to varying degrees. Differences follow the variances in the development and regulation of the specific welfare markets.

Social Europe : A Big Legacy: Wealth In Europe

The "Inequality in Europe" series on Social Europe examines the different dimensions of inequality in Europe and what kind of policy mix could help addressing them. Anita Tiefensee (WSI) gives an overview on the current distribution of wealth.