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Gustav Schmoller, His Heirs and the Foundation of Today’s Social Policy


  • Gerold Blümle
  • Nils Goldschmidt


Three elements make up the heart of Gustav Schmoller’s conception of social policy: 1. Schmoller’s comprehensive view regarding social policy issues; 2. Schmoller’s distinction between the internal and external effects of socio-political measures and finally, 3. the importance Schmoller places on education. For Schmoller, social policy represents far more than the setting up of individual welfare measures; instead, social policy is always linked to the encompassing and dynamic societal conditions. In this way, social policy – as understood by Schmoller – mainly aims at ensuring that individuals take part in social progress. In the wake of Schmoller, two different development lines can be distinguished today: on the one hand, the attempt to better reach Schmoller’s social policy objective by using a modern economic theory, which, however, leads to the dissociation of (economic) means and (social) objectives. On the other hand, the conviction that social policy must be understood as a central element of societal policy. The latter position does justice to Schmoller’s integrative perspective, yet the implementation in terms of economic policy remains problematic. Integrating these two lines might be feasible by using an ordoliberal approach that balances economic policy and social policy on the constitutional level. The inclusion of every individual into society is also a top priority of ordoliberal social policy. The return to Schmoller’s social political concern using the ordoliberal research method could offer vital impulses in the ongoing debate about the welfare state.

Suggested Citation

  • Gerold Blümle & Nils Goldschmidt, 2006. "Gustav Schmoller, His Heirs and the Foundation of Today’s Social Policy," Schmollers Jahrbuch : Journal of Applied Social Science Studies / Zeitschrift für Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, vol. 126(2), pages 197-224.
  • Handle: RePEc:aeq:aeqsjb:v126_y2006_i2_q2_p197-224

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Van den Berg, Gerard J., 2001. "Duration models: specification, identification and multiple durations," Handbook of Econometrics,in: J.J. Heckman & E.E. Leamer (ed.), Handbook of Econometrics, edition 1, volume 5, chapter 55, pages 3381-3460 Elsevier.
    2. Hunt, Jennifer, 1995. "The Effect of Unemployment Compensation on Unemployment Duration in Germany," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(1), pages 88-120, January.
    3. Lauer, Charlotte, 2003. "Education and Unemployment: A French-German Comparison," ZEW Discussion Papers 03-34, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    4. Bernd Fitzenberger & Ralf A. Wilke, 2010. "Unemployment Durations in West Germany Before and After the Reform of the Unemployment Compensation System during the 1980s," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 11, pages 336-366, August.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • B31 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought: Individuals - - - Individuals
    • B52 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Current Heterodox Approaches - - - Historical; Institutional; Evolutionary
    • I30 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General


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