The German Exception: Welfare Protectionism Instead of Retrenchment

Friday, July 14, 2017
WMB - Gannochy Seminar Room 3 (University of Glasgow)
Werner Eichhorst , Institute for the Study of Labour, IZA Bonn
Anke Hassel , Hertie School of Governance
This paper assesses the existence and the extent of retrenchment in labour market policies in Germany in the aftermath of the 2008-9 recession. In contrast to the intensive phase of labour market and welfare state reforms in the early 2000s aimed at ‘welfare readjustment’, we do not see retrenchment policies in Germany, rather a continuation of the path that was adopted earlier. This can be explained by the economic conditions which were, and still are, much more favourable than in many other EU Member States. Most recently, we can identify a partial reregulation of the labour market, most notably the introduction of a national minimum wage, a potential increase in the regulation of non-standard contracts and a reintroduction of early retirement for labour market insiders. These policies can be classified as ‘welfare protectionism’.