Institute of

Rural Studies

Social policy in agriculture

Research for efficient and effective solutions

Photo: Grandfather and grandkid talking
Social security: solidarity between generations (© lunaundmo - Fotolia.com)

We analyse the impacts of social security systems in agriculture and evaluate and develop proposals for reform.

The agricultural social security system is a sectoral social security program offering various types of insurance for farmers and their families out of one hand. The system includes pension insurance for farmers, agricultural health insurance and long term care insurance as well as agricultural accident insurance. Analysis of the further development of this security system is needed because the system has been a topic of controversial discussion for quite a while now. For this reason there is a sustained need for scientifically based decision-making helps in this policy field.

The reform discussions do not only arise out of the general debate on the future of social security systems with their expanding expenses and unfavorable demographic development. In the case of agricultural social security, agricultural structural change adds to the problem, and has led to a particularly unfavorable relation of active farmers and recipient elder farmers. In the pension insurance for farmers, at this time somewhat more than 250 pensioners rely on 100 contributors. Agricultural social security is thus dependent on the support of third parties and is subsidized to a great extent from national funds. In 2014, 3.7 billion Euros in subsidies from the German Ministry of Food and Agriculture went to agricultural social policies. That is about 58 percent of the total expenses of the agricultural social security system and at the same time 70 percent of the total BMEL budget. Agricultural social security is a central part of agricultural policy on the national level.

We are studying the financial and distributional policy impacts of the agricultural social security system and how these impact the social security of farmers and their families. On this scientific basis we draft recommendations for their further development. In addition we draw comparisons with other member states in the EU, in particular the member states which also have sectoral special systems as in Germany (Finland, France, Greece, Austria and Poland). Our analyses are based on statistics of agricultural social security and own surveys which serve empirical social research depending on the problem and the questions to be asked.  We have at the Institute for Rural Areas have long term research experience and demonstrated expertise on questions related to agricultural social security. This knowledge has flowed into a  number of studies on all aspects of the agricultural social security system.

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