(Why) Is there an increase in family poverty? A theoretical and empirical analysis with evidence for GermanyISER Internal Seminars

Since the 1970s, the risk of living in relative income poverty has increased considerably and has shifted from the old to the young generation in the majority of post-industrial western countries. Thus, families, i.e. persons living with children in households, more recently constitute a central poverty risk group which has grown to a central issue of Europe’s socio-political agenda. Germany, for example, has one of Europe’s highest cash- and tax-related public spending on family benefits that has even increased throughout the last thirty years. Nevertheless, family poverty is comparatively widespread in Germany. However, the long term development of family poverty has not been examined systematically yet – although this is required to understand the underlying determinants. The aim of my project, funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), is to systematically analyse and explain the development of family poverty in Germany over the last fifty years. The causes of family poverty over time are analysed by applying a theoretical and an empirical multilevel model. Referring to Boudon‘s sociological explanation of social change, the poverty risk of (family) households on the micro level is modeled as a function of household characteristics and of changing macro level factors in terms of economic developments, family demographical shifts and socio-political changes. Using micro data of 34 waves of the German Microcensus in the period 1962 to 2009 and macro data of official statistics, the relative contribution of individual and time-dependent structural characteristics on relative income poverty is tested. This will be done by applying a hierarchical three level multilevel model with households as level 1, Länder-years as level 2 and years as level 3. In this talk, I will discuss the theoretical and empirical model and present empirical results for the following questions: Is there an increase in family poverty in Germany? Are material inequalities between the childless and families persistent or is there convergence? Which micro level determinants for the higher poverty risks of families can be identified?

Presented by:

Mara Boehle (GESIS, German Microdata Lab, Mannheim)

Date & time:

6 Nov 2013 13:00 pm


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