Trapped in poverty - Labour market mobility of young social benefit recipients in Germany
Joblessness and Social Inclusion Institute for Employment Research (IAB) Nuremberg, Germany
The study explores the labour market mobility of young social benefit recipients in Germany and their chances to quit benefit dependency by integration into employment or training. The political and public discourse in Germany mostly perceives long-term poverty and benefit receipt of youth and young adults as a consequence of welfarization processes. This thesis can be discussed by three different theoretical perspectives. The first refers to rational-choice arguments: The young benefit recipients' incentives to take up employment are reduced if benefits are relative high and if they live in an adequate financial situation despite benefit dependency. Second, the concept of learned helplessness argues that permanent benefit dependency is the result of a line of disappointments on the labour market. People arrange with a living on benefits if they experience no or low employment perspectives. Third, the approach of a 'culture of poverty' states that the poor are detached from the values and norms of society. It is assumed that children growing up in welfare families adopt a low work motivation. The study assesses these three hypotheses. It takes a look at following questions: Are low employment perspectives and ongoing benefit dependency of young welfare clients affected by the individuals' financial situation, repeated unemployment or a low work motivation? Does the labour market mobility of young benefit recipients depend on social origin?
To answer these questions the study explores the employment mobility and chances to leave benefit dependency of 650 18- to 24-year-olds that have started to receive benefits in January 2005. The analysis is based on the survey 'Life Circumstances and Social Security 2005' of the Institute for Employment Research (IAB), Germany and longitudinal register data of the Federal Employment Agency. Data cover a period of three years, 2005 to 2007.