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Can Germany Be Saved?: The Malaise of the World's First Welfare State

Author

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  • Hans-Werner Sinn

    () (Ifo Institute for Economic Research)

Abstract

What has happened to the German economic miracle? Rebuilding from the rubble and ruin of two world wars, Germany in the second half of the twentieth century recaptured its economic strength. High-quality German-made products ranging from precision tools to automobiles again conquered world markets, and the country experienced stratospheric growth and virtually full employment. Germany (or West Germany, until 1989) returned to its position as the economic powerhouse of Europe and became the world's third-largest economy after the United States and Japan. But in recent years growth has slowed, unemployment has soared, and the economic unification of eastern and western Germany has been mishandled. Europe's largest economy is now outperformed by many of its European neighbors in per capita terms. In Can Germany Be Saved?, Hans-Werner Sinn, one of Germany's leading economists, takes a frank look at his country's economic problems and proposes welfare- and tax-reform measures aimed at returning Germany to its former vigor and vitality. Germany invented the welfare state in the 1880s when Bismarck introduced government-funded health insurance, disability insurance, and pensions; the German system became a model for other industrialized countries. But, Sinn argues, today's German welfare state has incurred immense fiscal costs and destroyed economic incentives. Unemployment has become so lucrative that the private sector, already under pressure from international low-wage competitors, has increasing difficulties in paying sufficiently attractive wages. Sinn traces many of his country's economic problems to an increasingly intractable conflict between Germany's welfare state and the forces of globalization. Can Germany Be Saved? (an updated English-language version of a German bestseller) asks the hard questions--about unions, welfare payments, tax rates, the aging population, and immigration--that all advanced economies need to ask. Its answers, and its call for a radical rethinking of the welfare state, should stir debate and discussion everywhere.

Suggested Citation

  • Hans-Werner Sinn, 2007. "Can Germany Be Saved?: The Malaise of the World's First Welfare State," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262195585, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:mtp:titles:0262195585
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Michael Kumhof & Evan C Tanner, 2005. "Government Debt; A Key Role in Financial Intermediation," IMF Working Papers 05/57, International Monetary Fund.
    2. Graciela L. Kaminsky & Carmen Reinhart, 2003. "The Center and the Periphery: The Globalization of Financial Turmoil," NBER Working Papers 9479, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Amartya Lahiri & Rajesh Singh & Carlos A. Vegh, 2007. "Optimal Exchange Rate Regimes: Turning Mundell-Fleming's Dictum on its Head," Panoeconomicus, Savez ekonomista Vojvodine, Novi Sad, Serbia, pages 249-270.
    4. Fabrizio Coricelli & Bostjan Jazbec & Igor Masten, 2008. "Sources and Obstacles for Growth in Transition Countries: The Role of Credit," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) hal-00643347, HAL.
    5. repec:hal:journl:hal-00643347 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Cited by:

    1. Werner Bönte & Oliver Falck & Stephan Heblich, 2007. "Demography and Innovative Entrepreneurship," Jena Economic Research Papers 2007-084, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
    2. Eloi Laurent & Jacques Le Cacheux, 2007. "The Irish Tiger and the German Frog: A Tale of Size and Growth in the Euro Area," Working Papers hal-00972692, HAL.
    3. Antonin Rusek, 2013. "Quo Vadis, Europa," International Advances in Economic Research, Springer;International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 19(4), pages 381-397, November.
    4. Kaplan, Lennart C. & Kohl, Tristan & Martínez-Zarzoso, Inmaculada, 2016. "The effects of the CEECS's accession on sectoral trade: A value added perspective," Center for European, Governance and Economic Development Research Discussion Papers 272, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.
    5. David B. Audretsch & Oliver Falck & Stephan Heblich, 2007. "It’s All in Marshall: The Impact of External Economies on Regional Dynamics," CESifo Working Paper Series 2094, CESifo Group Munich.
    6. Mirdala, Rajmund & Ruščáková, Anna, 2015. "On Origins and Implications of the Sovereign Debt Crisis in the Euro Area," MPRA Paper 68859, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Christian Breuer, 2015. "Fiscal Consolidation in Germany: Gain without Pain?," CESifo Forum, Ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 16(2), pages 50-53, August.
    8. repec:kap:iaecre:v:19:y:2013:i:4:p:381-397 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Giancarlo Corsetti & Michael P. Devereux & John Hassler & Gilles Saint-Paul & Hans-Werner Sinn & Jan-Egbert Sturm & Xavier Vives, 2011. "Chapter 3: Greece," EEAG Report on the European Economy, CESifo Group Munich, vol. 0, pages 97-125, February.
    10. Hans-Michael Trautwein & Finn Marten Körner, 2014. "German Economic Models, Transnationalization and European Imbalances," ZenTra Working Papers in Transnational Studies 28 / 2014, ZenTra - Center for Transnational Studies, revised Jan 2014.
    11. Rüdiger Waldkirch & Matthias Meyer & Karl Homann, 2009. "Accounting for the Benefits of Social Security and the Role of Business: Four Ideal Types and Their Different Heuristics," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 89(3), pages 247-267, November.
    12. Luigi Bonatti & Andrea Fracasso, 2013. "The German Model and the European Crisis," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 51(6), pages 1023-1039, November.
    13. Egelhoff, William & Frese, Erich, 2009. "Understanding managers' preferences for internal markets versus business planning: A comparative study of German and U.S. managers," Journal of International Management, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 77-91, March.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    welfare; Germany;

    JEL classification:

    • I3 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty

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