The German government has invested almost 24 billion euros in relief measures to counter rapidly rising energy prices due to the war in Ukraine. The money is going toward increased social welfare benefits, reduced gas taxes, and a heavily discounted monthly public transport pass. But are these measures actually offsetting the increased costs?
As data from the study “Living in Germany” show, the increase in energy prices is placing the most severe burden on poorer households. For the poorest 10 percent of the population, the costs of electricity, heat, and fuel will eat up 6.7 percent of net income in the next 12 to 18 months. These households will receive 3.7 percent of that back in the form of government relief, leaving them with an energy burden of 3 percentage points. leaving them with an energy burden of 3 percentage points.
For the richest 10 percent of households in Germany, energy costs will only consume an additional 2 percent of net income. They will receive 0.7 percent of that back in government relief, leaving them with an energy burden of just 1.3 percentage points.
“There is a lot to be said for not reducing the tax burden on higher income earners, and in the medium term, for raising taxes on very high incomes and assets,” says economist Stefan Bach of DIW Berlin, who carried out the study with his colleague Jakob Knautz.
In Umweltzonen dürfen nur schadstoffarme Fahrzeuge unterwegs sein. So wird für eine gute Luftqualität und damit auch die Gesundheit der Anwohnerinnen und Anwohner gesorgt. Und dennoch sinkt durch die Einführung solcher Zonen zunächst deren Lebenszufriedenheit. Das zeigt eine Analyse auf Basis der der Studie „Leben in Deutschland“.
„Die Anwohnerinnen und Anwohner brauchen etwa vier bis fünf Jahre, um sich an die Umweltzonen zu gewöhnen“, sagt die DIW-Forscherin Nicole Wägner. Den Grund dafür sieht sie in den Lebensumständen. Denn Menschen, die wegen einer Umweltzone weniger mobil sind oder für den Kauf eines schadstoffarmen Autos tief in die Tasche greifen müssen, fällt es schwerer diese zu akzeptieren.
Vor allem Menschen unter 65 Jahren und Dieselfahrer sind zunächst weniger zufrieden, wenn eine Umweltzone eingeführt wird. „Jüngere Menschen haben ein größeres Mobilitätsbedürfnis und müssen öfter mit dem Auto zur Arbeit fahren. Für Dieselfahrzeuge gelten in Umweltzonen strengere Standards als für Benziner“, erklärt Co-Autor Luis Sarmiento vom Mailänder Forschungsinstitut RFF-CMCC.
New analyses based on data from the study Living in Germany show that people with lower incomes have a higher risk of needing supportive care and nursing services. Men at risk of poverty are likely to need care almost six years earlier than higher-earning men, while women need care around three and a half years earlier.
Occupation also plays a role. On average, blue-collar workers need supportive care and nursing services about four years earlier than civil servants. In addition, men and women with high-stress jobs need supportive care and nursing services on average 4.7 and 2.7 years earlier, respectively.
“In Germany, there is social inequality not just in income and life expectancy, but also in the risk of needing care,” says DIW expert Peter Haan, who worked with colleagues from the SOEP in conducting the study.
When social trust is high, people are more inclined to collaborate—even in crisis situations. This mechanism has been at work during the pandemic, according to results of a special survey of more than 12,000 participants in the long-term study “Living in Germany”.
According to this special survey on life in Germany during COVID-19, trust has been high during the pandemic. In fact, social trust increased between February 2020 and June 2021. The results show how important trust has been in overcoming the pandemic: People with higher trust in others are more likely to get vaccinated against COVID-19. They are also more likely to follow COVID-19 rules such as “keep a safe distance,” “wash your hands,” and “wear a mask.”
Further informationPhoto by Marcin Jozwiak on Unsplash