Kirsten Scheiwe
New Demands for Social Protection - Changing Family Structures, Women's Roles and Institutional Responses. The Case of the German Long-term Care Insurance

Arbeitsbereich I; 19
ISSN: 0948-0072

The challenges to social security systems, the need for change and their capacity to adapt are a focus of attention in recent times. This paper concentrates on the new needs and risks affected by changes in family structures and the division of labour between generations and genders, and investigates which place family- and care-related needs and risks occupy in the changing German 'welfare mix'. The new German Long-Term Care Insurance implemented in 1995 is discussed in more detail as a major piece of welfare-state reform and expansion. The chances for the extension of social rights and coverage of 'new' risks related to unpaid work, care needs and activities, the economic consequences of divorce, lone parenthood and childrearing are discussed. Particular constraints which result from the German political system and power balances as well as from internal structures of the social security system are identified. This paper stresses the need for a comprehensive and sufficiently broad approach to coordinated reform in the social security provisions in order to embrace the complementary regulation of welfare-state and family law regulation. However, the chances for such a coordinated path of reform (as against a piecemeal strategy where reform takes place at the level of single institutions) look rather gloomy because of the complexity of such an endeavour, the multiplicity of actors involved, the power relations and split competences in the German political system. This reinforces the 'path dependency' of the German social security system, which allows for some, though limited, upgrading of care-related social rights for women. In a similar vein, the formerly 'private' life-risk of need for long-term care was transformed into a risk covered by insurance but within rather traditional parameters.