„Multi-person households under Book II of the German Social Code (SGBII)”

In Germany, anyone between ages 15 and 64 who is capable of employment and unable to find work, or who does not earn enough from employment to live from and is in need of assistance, has a legal entitlement to unemployment benefit II to meet his costs of living.

Since the introduction of Book II of the Social Code (SGBII) in the year 2005, basic security benefits for job-seekers are no longer assessed on an individual basis, but on a household basis. This means that the amount of unemployment benefit II depends on the specific needs of the job-seeker and the needs of any others (spouse/partner and any children under 25) living with them in a joint household. In practice, this implies that a job seeker´s entitlement to unemployment benefit II may be reduced by income and assets of any other person living with him in a joint household. Thus, Book II of the Social Code (SGBII) stresses the principle of subsidiarity and demands family solidarity, respectively solidarity between members of a joint household.

Yet, administrative action by local job centers focuses on the individual. First, consulting concepts  are tailored to individual job seekers . Second, as recent studies suggest, assessing unemployment benefits on a household basis might favor the male breadwinner, i.e. case workers might favor focus their efforts on re-integrating favor male members of a household.

Thus, the research project aims to answer the question, how case workers  in local job centers deal with the tensions between the assessment of unemployment benefit II on a household basis, and the goal of integrating the individual job seeker into the labor market in practice.

To answer the research question, a multi-method research design comprising qualitative interviews as well as a factorial survey among case workers has been adopted. 

In cooperation with:

  • Prof. Dr. Steffen Hillmert (Institut für Soziologie, Universität Tübingen)

Commissioned by:

  • Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), Nürnberg

Project team:

Contact Person:
Prof. Dr. Bernhard Boockmann ( +49 7071 9896 20 // E-Mail )


2016 - 2019