Strong Welfare State in the Corona Crisis | Max-Planck-Institut für Sozialrecht und Sozialpolitik - MPISOC

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07.08.2020 / Sozialrecht EN

Strong Welfare State in the Corona Crisis

Prof. Becker calls for an extensive discussion about collective and individual responsibilities

Prof. Dr. Ulrich Becker, Director of the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy, positively evaluates the welfare state in the BR-Podcast „B5 Extra Coronavirus - Wege aus der Krise“ of 7 August 2020. In the interview with Christine Bergmann (Bayerischer Rundfunk), he explains that during the corona crisis, a wide range of tried and tested, but also new means to absorb economic consequences were made use of in a short period of time. 

Interventions such as the short-time allowance and improved access to social benefits helped to save jobs and secure livelihoods, explains the legal scholar who supervises the study „Securing Livelihood in the Corona Crisis". However, in the long run measures to contain crises may not be the benchmark for the welfare state. Problems in regard of social security systems need to be solved independently.

Becker argues that there is an urgent need to improve the concept of unemployment benefits, especially regarding low-income families with children. Single parents are in particular need of more support, as the crisis has shown during the closure of schools and kindergartens for instance. In this respect, Becker pleads for better adjustment of basic social security to family and housing allowances above all. 

Additionally, Becker considers the pension insurance to be in great need of reform. Rising life expectancy will lead to an increased retirement age. Also, a greater redistribution in regard of the pension insurance is necessary. In practice, this could mean that, in relative terms, high earners will receive slightly less pension entitlement for their contributions. In turn, the pension entitlements of low earners could then be increased (see also: FAZ article of 20.3.2020 and SWR 1 interview of 15.5.2020).

Becker states that the Corona crisis has shown that the desire for a liberal order demands economic and social issues to be in harmony with each other. Particularly in view of future crises, the social discussion about what the welfare state needs to achieve and where individual responsibilities lie becomes indispensable. "Which issues need to become part of collective responsibility, what can still remain of individual responsibility? At what level do we want to intervene? As the next crisis will certainly come, it would be good to give these questions a fundamental thought," says Becker.

The full interview in the ARD Audiothek:
B5 Extra Coronavirus: Wege aus der Krise - Ulrich Becker, Direktor des Max-Planck-Instituts für Sozialrecht und Sozialpolitik: – 07.08.2020

The core issues are summed up in this article:
Corona-Podcast: Sozialexperte fordert Reformen bei der Rente: