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  • Author: Wolfgang Streeck
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: The dissolution of the standard employment relationship since the 1970s has been paralleled by a destabilization of family relations. The paper, which is a slightly revised version of a plenary lecture at the 2008 Meeting of the German Sociological Association, discusses possible connections between the rise of more flexible labor market and family structures, and explores how they might tie in with the declining birth rate. The co-evolution of labor markets and family relations can be explained by both the attractions and the constraints of free markets. The current shift toward a new social policy aimed at increasing fertility is presented as an example of how expanding market relations and the uncertainty to which they give rise in personal life cause demands for state intervention. The logic seems remarkably similar to that of the current banking crisis, where the liberation of financial markets from traditional constraints and the progressive commodification of money have ultimately issued in irresistible pressures on the state to step in and restore the social commons of stable expectations and mutual confidence. In both cases, and perhaps generally, capitalism seems to imply a need for a public power capable of creating substitutes for social relations invaded by market relations and as a consequence losing their capacity to perform some of their previous functions.
  • Topic: Government, Markets, Political Economy, Political Theory
  • Political Geography: Germany
  • Author: Achim Goerres
  • Publication Date: 12-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: Is there an antagonism between young and old in the electoral arena that could lead to the obstruction of welfare-state reforms? This article argues that this notion is a myth and lacks empirical evidence for the case of Germany. It is true that (a) there are imminent majorities of voters aged 50 and older; (b) older voters benefit from many welfare state programs and (c) life-cycle interests shape some attitudes towards single public policies. However, these facts alone do not represent an antagonism between young and old in the electoral arena. Firstly, differences in party preferences between age groups are due to generational effects associated with early political socialization. Secondly, life-cycle interests do not shape the German party competition because age is not a political division line (cleavage). Young age/old age is only a transitional boundary that all of us aspire to cross, meaning that material old-age interests are important to everyone. Finally, grey interests parties are notoriously weak and try to become parties for the interests of all age groups.
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany
  • Author: Jens Beckert
  • Publication Date: 10-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: Germany introduced a federal inheritance tax in 1906. Historically, the share of its revenues compared to total tax revenues has always been low. Currently, less than one percent of total revenues are generated from inheritance tax. In countries like France, the United States and England, inheritance tax revenues are higher. With its ruling in 2007 the German supreme court has forced parliament to revise regulations on inheritance taxation. Various proposals are currently the subject of intense political debate. I take this discussion as the starting point for an investigation of fundamental arguments for and against estate taxation. Proposing that inheritances be taxed as a further type of income within the context of the income tax, I examine the impact of inheritance taxes on economic performance, family solidarity and the political community as well as the relationship between inheritance taxation and important value principles of individual freedom, social justice and equality of opportunity.
  • Topic: Government, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Europe, France, Germany
  • Author: Fritz W. Scharpf
  • Publication Date: 09-2005
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: The unique institutions that make up Germany's "unitary federal state," long considered part of the country's post-war success story, are now generally perceived as a "joint-decision trap" impeding effective policy responses to new economic and demographic challenges at both levels of government. Nevertheless, a high-powered bicameral Commission set up in the fall of 2003 failed to reach agreement on constitutional reforms. The paper analyzes the misguided procedural and substantive choices that led to this failure, and it discusses the possibility of asymmetric constitutional solutions that might enhance the capacity for autonomous action at both levels.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany
  • Author: Martin Höpner, Lothar Krempel
  • Publication Date: 09-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: For over 100 years, the German company network was a major feature of organized corporate governance in Germany. This paper uses network visualization techniques and qualitative-historical analysis to discuss the structure, origins and development of this network and to analyze the reasons for its recent erosion. Network visualization makes it possible to identify crucial entanglement patterns that can be traced back historically. In three phases of network formation – the 1880s, 1920s and the 1950s –, capital entanglement resulted from the interplay of company behavior and government policy. In its heyday, the company network was de facto encompassing and provided its core participants, especially the banks, with a national, macroeconomic perspective. In the 1970s, a process of increased competition among financial companies set in. In the 1980s and 1990s, declining returns from blockholding and increased opportunity costs made network dissolution a thinkable option for companies. Because of the strategic reorientation of the largest banks toward investment banking, ties between banks and industry underwent functional changes. Since the year 2000, the German government's tax policy has sped up network erosion. Vanishing capital ties imply a declining degree of strategic coordination among large German companies.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Governance
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany