Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung

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Inhaltsbereich: Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung

Panel Study Labour Market and Social Security (PASS)

The Panel Study Labour Market and Social Security conducted by the IAB constitutes a database which allows for the analysis of the dynamics of basic income support and the social situation of households receiving basic income support. Two research questions in particular show why such a database is necessary:

  1. As the basic income support for job-seekers (Grundsicherung für Arbeitsuchende) is a social benefit granted at the household (”Bedarfsgemeinschaft”) level, the situation of benefit recipients has to be analysed within a household context if the individual and social effects of receiving benefits are both to be adequately investigated. The same applies to the adequate evaluation of labour market policy measures, as strategies of active labour market policy always relate to circumstances of life that are typical for each particular household and develop their effects in dependence on such individual contexts. A further question that can hardly be answered without recourse to the internal social and economic structures of households is that of the gender-specific impacts of individual measures and the significance of women's and men's work and employment orientation for overcoming the need to rely on benefits. For this reason it seemed reasonable to design PASS as a household survey.
  2. Placing the focus of research on the contexts and dynamics of households living in poverty made a longitudinal study design necessary, a fact that was taken into account by drafting PASS as a panel study. Such a design does not only allow for the event history analysis of the entries into, and exits from drawing benefits and their relation to individual events or social and labour market policy measures according to SGB II; it also facilitates a widening of the research perspective to include typical patterns of perpetuation of the need to rely on benefits found at the individual or household level. In addition, it is also possible to pinpoint the pathways out of dependency and towards (re-)integration into gainful employment intended by the SGB II. And here, in turn, it is also possible to investigate to what extent the bundle of measures provided by the SGB II facilitates such integration, given the particular household composition of the target households.

In addition to this, four further methodological particularities of the Panel Study "Labour Market and Social Security" should be mentioned: (a) the combination of two – roughly similarly large – subsamples; (b) the survey is conducted as a mixed-mode survey combining telephone interviews (CATI) and personal interviews (CAPI); (c) the survey is administered in several languages; and (d) the linkage with the administrative data of the Federal Employment Agency.

Point (a) results from the fact that, even though the key research questions of PASS are strongly related to various aspects of drawing assistance according to SGB II, it will not be possible to answer all of these questions based on a sample made up solely of SGB II-benefit recipients. Important questions that can be answered using PASS are those concerning 

  • paths into and out of dependence on state transfer payments;
  • changes in the social situations and social inclusion of households and persons receiving benefits;
  • the subjective way in which people cope with being unemployed for long periods of time and with being dependent on state transfer payments, as well as the possible changes in behaviourally relevant attitudes of the respondents that might occur over time;
  • respondents' contact to the institutions providing basic income support for job-seekers and the institutional practices applied in order to reintegrate recipients into the labour market.

In particular, for the analysis of processes of entry into receipt of benefits, for the generation of control groups and for the assessment of living conditions, information about groups of the population that are not receiving benefits is required in order to properly answer the questions illustrated above. For this reason, in addition to a subsample drawn from the Federal Employment Agency's administrative data and replenished annually with new entries into receipt of basic income support, PASS includes a second subsample covering the general population. Not least, this makes it possible to project the findings of PASS to the resident population of Germany as a whole.

The second special feature of the study (b), the use of both telephone and personal interviews in a flexible sequential mixed-mode design,  is intended to allow maximization of response rates under the restrictions of the budget available. Here households are contacted in the mode in which they were last successfully surveyed. If no interview comes about, the mode is changed. In the first three survey waves, participating households were first contacted by telephone and then, as of Wave 4, in person.

The third point (c), administering interviews in several languages, results from the fact that migrants find themselves in precarious living situations more often than other sections of the population, and that for those of them who have a poor command of the German language this will most likely set an additional barrier to finding a job. In order to ensure that there are no systematical missing data for this important target group, the interviews were not only held in German but also in the respective mother tongues of the groups of migrants with the greatest numbers. In Waves 1-9, the interviews were offered in Turkish and Russian; as of the tenth survey wave, Turkish was replaced by Arabic.

The linkage with the administrative data of the Federal Employment Agency (d) ensures, on the one hand, that respondents burden is reduced. For instance, biographical data on employment do not need to be ascertained comprehensively because, for participants who give their informed consent, they can be retrieved from administrative data. In addition, it extends the potential for analysis because the survey data can be evaluated in conjunction with detailed information on participation in active labour market programmes or the exact job income development - data that are difficult to collect. And, last but not least, this linkage forms the basis of a great many survey methodological projects related to PASS. 

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