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Social Jealousy and Stigma: Negative Externalities of Social Assistance Payments in Germany

  • Sonja C. Kassenboehmer

    ()

  • John P. Haisken-DeNew

This paper examines the role of social assistance payments (SAP or Sozialhilfe) in determining levels of life satisfaction in Germany using the SOEP 1995–2004. We find strong evidence that individuals in Germany are negatively influenced by increased SAP payments controlling for income, whether or not they actually receive such payments (stigma and social jealousy). While there are obvious benefits to making SAP to those needy, there are substantial negative externalities experienced by those who neither receive SAP nor qualify (counterfactual SAP). Furthermore, these negative effects are even stronger for those who do receive benefits (stigma) suggesting that social jealousy and stigma are a force to be reckoned with when evaluating social policy.We show that the added benefits of increasing SAP are reduced by 50 to 100% because of social jealousy and stigma costs, whereas child benefits (Kindergeld) are seen to enhance life satisfaction over and above a simple income effect. Further, own-earned income, over and above the SAP subsistence level is valued much higher than transfer payments at the SAP subsistence level, suggesting a policy focus on increasing employment integration efforts for SAP recipients as opposed merely to providing SAP transfers.

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File URL: http://repec.rwi-essen.de/files/REP_09_117.pdf
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Paper provided by Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen in its series Ruhr Economic Papers with number 0117.

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Length: 32 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:rwi:repape:0117
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  1. Paul Frijters & John P. Haisken-DeNew & Michael A. Shields, 2004. "Investigating the Patterns and Determinants of Life Satisfaction in Germany Following Reunification," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(3).
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  4. Paul Frijters & John P. Haisken-DeNew & Michael A. Shields, 2004. "Money Does Matter! Evidence from Increasing Real Income and Life Satisfaction in East Germany Following Reunification," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(3), pages 730-740, June.
  5. Joachim R. Frick & Olaf Groh-Samberg, 2007. "To Claim or Not to Claim: Estimating Non-take-up of Social Assistance in Germany and the Role of Measurement Error," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 734, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
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  10. Haan, Peter & Wrohlich, Katharina, 2007. "Optimal Taxation: The Design of Child Related Cash- and In-Kind-Benefits," IZA Discussion Papers 3128, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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  15. Richard Blundell & Alan Duncan & Julian McCrae & Costas Meghir, 2000. "The labour market impact of the working families’ tax credit," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 21(1), pages 75-103, March.
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