The new German labour market policy and older welfare recipients: Activation or "active ageing"?
Joblessness and Social Inclusion Institute for Employment Research Nuremberg, Germany
The study I would like to present focuses the question to what extent elderly unemployed welfare recipients take up gainful employment. With the implementation of the law "Social Code II", Germany switched to a more activating welfare system. Incentives for individuals to offer their work capacity have clearly increased. Therefore it becomes more difficult for elderly unemployed to retire prematurely from working life. But the question is if there exist enough opportunities enabling older jobless people to take up a sustainable employment.
My analysis is based on administrative data of the German Federal Labour Agency and provides detailed information about individual and household characteristics of the 40 to 58 years-old unemployed welfare recipients. The study explores if there are distinctions between different groups of recipients regarding their transition chances into employment. Certain characteristics affect the job matching processes and therefore individual job prospects: qualification, previous employment history and disability status. Another question regards the quality of the jobs elderly take up: Does this employment guarantee a life without additional state subsidies?
Examining transition chances of older welfare recipients, some of the theoretical hypotheses must be thought over: For instance it can generally be expected that individuals with higher educational level have better chances to find a job than low skilled workers. But higher educational attainment accompanied by long joblessness can result in small chances of finding a job because of the skilled-biased technological change. As elder welfare recipients are often long-term unemployed, one cannot unambiguously assume a positive correlation between skill levels and re-employment chances.
The study starts from the premise that taking up a social insured employment in the later phase of life course improves the quality of life by making it for older people possible to participate in the cultural and material goods of a society. The results of the event history analysis will give an insight into the question if the new German activating labour market policy leads to inclusion of older recipients into the gainful employment system and enables them to realise the idea of "active ageing".