'The Politics of Inequality' Policy Papers are aimed at an audience consisting of political decision-makers, journalists, actors from business and civic society, as well as the wider public interested in the topics covered here.
These Policy Papers offer practice-oriented and practice-relevant information, findings, and arguments alongside policy recommendations on current issues in inequality research. We prepare and disseminate policy papers in collaboration with the non-party think tank "Das Progressive Zentrum" (Berlin) among others.
Florian Kunze et al. (2023): Wie gelingt die Integration junger Zugewanderter in den Arbeitsmarkt? Das Integration@Work-Projekt.
Policy Papers 13: Inequality and Work (in German)
Currently, there is a growing influx into the German labour market—not only from refugees but also through active recruitment of skilled foreign workers. In terms of successful economic and social integration, the dual vocational training system plays a decisive role. However, trainees with a migrant background have significantly higher dropout rates compared to those with German citizenship. This trend is particularly pronounced in sectors that are severely affected by a shortage of skilled workers, such as skilled trades or the care professions. This policy paper identifies factors that can enhance the integration of young immigrants into the training market and formulates corresponding recommendations for training companies and political stakeholders.
Marius R. Busemeyer, Nanna Lauritz Schönhage, Sharon Baute, Luna Bellani, Guido Schwerdt (2023): Gloomy prospects: The Konstanz Inequality Barometer shows that inequality is perceived to have increased
Policy Paper 12: Inequality Barometer - Inequality and Social Mobility
Data from the new wave of the Konstanz Inequality Barometer shows that people in Germany perceive a widespread increase of inequality in income and wealth and barely distinguish between income and wealth inequality. This is despite the fact that wealth inequality is significantly larger than income inequality. At the same time, the actual level of inequality is still underestimated in some respects. Concerning the prospects of the younger generation, many people, especially supporters of the right-wing populist AfD, are rather negative. Less pessimism is found among supporters of the center-right parties, CDU/CSU and FDP.
Anika Lloyd-Smith, Fabian Bergmann, Yair Sapir, Rusen Yasar, Tanja Kupisch (2023): Why Language Matters: Inequality Perceptions among the Sámi in Sweden and Norway
Policy Papers 11: Inequality and Language
Every two weeks, one of the world’s estimated 7,000 languages dies. Yet what are the consequences of having to give up one’s native language? Speakers of minority languages worldwide face barriers to using their languages outside their homes, often with negative consequences for educational and economic success. A new survey of the Indigenous Sámi in Sweden and Norway suggests that language policies are key to perceptions of inequality. Speakers of the Sámi languages have lower perceptions of their societal standing than Sámi who have given up the language. Combined with insights from an in-depth study on Sámi language education, our findings suggest that policies should facilitate language maintenance in linguistic minorities. Supporting these languages may help to reduce feelings of discrimination.
Adrian Rinscheid, Marius R. Busemeyer (2023): How the distorted picture of the commuting allowance could be corrected
Policy Papers 10: Inequality and Work
The commuting allowance is a popular tool to reduce one’s own tax burden. Yet it is problematic in two ways: it increases distributional inequality and has negative effects on the environment and climate. In this policy paper, we show that these connections are often not perceived accurately. However, receiving objective information about distributional and environmental impacts increases citizens’ support for proposals to reform the flat rate. Such a perception could become a lever to increase support for a reform and to make the commuting allowance more socially and environmentally sustainable.
Sandra Walzenbach, Thomas Hinz (2022): Beyond Facts and Arguments: How Majority Society and the "Querdenken" Movement Perceive Media Content.
Policy Papers 09: COVID-19 and Inequality – Arguments and Findings 06. 08 December 2021.
People like to believe what confirms their pre-existing opinion. In cognitive psychology, this phenomenon is known as "confirmation bias. Can it also explain the increasing polarization between the majority society and "contrarians" during the corona pandemic? To this end, we examined the perception of media content. Here we shed light on the extent to which the two groups differ in their perception of media content: What role does "confirmation bias" play in each case, and what role does the quality of the information play? Finally, we discuss what follows from our research for the communication of scientific and political content.
Marius R. Busemeyer, Tobias Tober (2021): Social compensation, retraining, shorter working hours? Citizen’s social policy priorities for the age of automation.
Policy Papers 08: Inequality and Labor 01. 07 September 2021.
Robotization, automation and digitalization are transforming labor markets around the globe – more than ever now that a pandemic has shown that our economy is fragile and dependent on specific, often unrecognized jobs. What do citizens expect from their governments in response? Our study of 24 OECD countries shows deep concerns about tech-related job risks. But technological change also raises many positive expectations. Education and training measures for those affected by tech-related change are greeted with widespread approval. Disadvantaged workers, however, would prefer short-term compensations for the potential loss of their jobs. Governments are advised
to strike a balance between making social investments in the digital knowledge economy and awarding social transfers.
Ariane Bertogg, Marius R. Busemeyer, Claudia Diehl, Nevena Kulić, Susanne Strauß, Thomas Wöhler, Felix Wolter (2021): Trust. Vaccination. Radicalization. Dissatisfaction. Where the Coronavirus Crisis makes Society More Unequal.
Policy Papers 07: COVID-19 and Inequality – Arguments and Findings 06. 29 July 2021.
Does society still trust the state? Well into the second year of the pandemic, we explore this question in four aspects. We examine perceptions and attitudes toward structural inequalities in the coronavirus crisis on the basis of representative surveys with several thousand participants. The results are four short studies: we analyze public trust in the health care system's crisis response. We examine whether unequal access to vaccinations ignites fairness debates. We ask to which degree containment measures generate negative reactions in the population, up to and including radicalization. Finally, we look into the additional burdens of childcare during the lockdown.
Luna Bellani, Nona Bledow, Marius R. Busemeyer, Guido Schwerdt (2021): When everyone thinks they’re middle-class: (Mis-)Perceptions of inequality and why they matter for social policy.
Policy Paper 06: Inequality Barometer – Inequality and Social Mobility. 26. Mai 2021.
Current levels of social and economic inequalities are an enduring challenge for policymakers concerned with sustaining high levels of prosperity and social mobility. Understanding which types of inequalities people in Germany regard as important is crucial. Using survey data, this paper presents evidence that misperceptions about inequality among the German population are common. Inequality is perceived as a problem and most respondents would prefer a more egalitarian society. However, people still underestimate the extent of inequality in important ways. This suggests that there is the potential for a policy agenda that emphasizes progressive and egalitarian policies. For such policies to gain public support, they should be tied to information on specific aspects of inequality.
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David Dohmen, Katrin Schmelz (2021): Data protection during the COVID-19 crisis: Focusing in on autonomy and trust.
Policy Paper 05: COVID-19 and Inequality – Arguments and findings. 11 May 2021.
Making use of citizens' data might be an essential tool for overcoming social challenges. Nevertheless, the use of data, be it with respect to the COVID-19 crisis or data retention, remains a controversial topic. While the German public values its high standards for data protection our survey indicates that the public is willing to hand over data as long as doing so remains a voluntary choice. Hence, to facilitate the transmission of data between the government and its citizens it is important that citizens retain a freedom of choice. Additionally, increasing the level of trust in public institutions and signaling the benefits from data use also positively increase citizens' opinions on governmental data use.
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Marius R. Busemeyer (2020): Source of healing or bone of contention? Trust in the German healthcare system during the coronavirus crisis.
Policy Paper 04: COVID-19 and Inequality – Arguments and Findings. 15 September 2020.
The persistent challenge posed by the coronavirus crisis raises questions concerning the efficiency and fairness of the German healthcare system. Based on new representative survey data, this paper examines what Germans think of the system’s general strength and fairness. Whereas trust in the system’s ability to avoid the unequal treatment of different groups of the population is high, people are more skeptical when it comes to its strength and efficiency. Political preferences play a role here, with supporters of the right-wing populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) much more skeptical than those supporting the center-right Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) and the Green Party. Trust in the healthcare system and political trust, especially in the truthfulness of the federal government’s information policy, are closely linked. Information policy, therefore, plays a crucial role when it comes to securing public trust in the healthcare system.
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Claudia Diehl, Felix Wolter (2020): End the lockdown? Why restrictions are being lifted too fast for some and not fast enough for others.
Policy Paper 03: COVID-19 and Inequality – Arguments and Findings. 23 July 2020.
Trust matters more than self-interest: That is the result of an online survey we conducted among roughly 4,800 participants in April and May 2020. Individual attitudes towards easing restrictions to contain the coronavirus pandemic are not primarily shaped by whether people fear economic or family-related consequences for themselves or for society. Rather, it is perceived infringements on basic rights that motivate respondents to demand that restrictions be lifted. Respondents from East Germany and those who tend not to trust public institutions in the first place are especially critical of the containment measures. The discussion about easing restrictions, therefore, is not so much about the varying degrees to which individuals are affected, but rather about the degree of trust in public institutions generally.
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Florian Kunze, Kilian Hampel, Sophia Zimmermann (2020): Working from home in the Coronavirus crisis: Towards a transformation of work environments?
The coronavirus crisis has brought rapid and sweeping changes to the daily work life of many employees. To comply with social distancing rules, many private and public organizations let all or part of their staff work from home. This study analyzes this new work environment on the basis of unprecedented data: a survey conducted at nine points in time among roughly 700 telecommuting employees. The results demonstrate that employees working from home show an increase in perceived productivity and commitment. The vast majority wish to continue to work flexibly on a remote basis, at least to some extent. However, we also observe a trend towards excessive workloads resulting in exhaustion. This increases the urge for policymakers and employee representations to take action. The study concludes with recommendations on how to improve the general conditions concerning telework.
Sebastian Koos, Dirk Leuffen (2020): Beds or bonds? Conditional solidarity in the coronavirus crisis.
Policy Paper 01: COVID-19 and Inequality – Arguments and Findings. 01 July 2020.
The coronavirus crisis exacerbates inequality in the European Union. It gives rise to a critical debate about the future of Europe concerning a key question: In what way does the project of integration require a higher degree of European solidarity? To what extent are Europeans willing to help each other, and what kind of help are they willing to provide? The results from a recent survey of the German residential population, presented in this paper, offer a mixed picture: Whereas people strongly support medical solidarity, their willingness to support fi nancial redistribution is limited. As a consequence, it will be crucial to use ideational leadership to activate the potential for solidarity towards a united, viable Europe marked by limited inequality—especially with the German Council Presidency commencing on July 1st, 2020.
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