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The End of Social Security as we know it – The Erosion of Status Protection in German Labour Market Policy

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 June 2017

University of Applied Sciences Bremen, Neustadtswall 30, 28199 Bremen, Germany email:
Chamber of Labour Bremen, Bürgerstraße 1, 28195 Bremen, Germany email:


The German labour market policy regime constitutes a reliable supporting pillar of the highly productive German employment system. Due to the most recent reforms, its core principle of status protection – a basic norm of the German middle-class-related model of social protection for the population of working age – is losing its formative character. Our analysis focuses on three separate policy principles that form the guiding logic of status centredness, namely the equivalence in security provision, the mechanisms that protect the socio-economic status in the event of unemployment, and the tripartite mode of funding. We argue that the ‘Hartz Reforms’ have reinforced the logic of the legal modifications since the mid-1990s, cumulating now in a shift away from the middle-class-oriented status-centred approach of social security provision.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2017 

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