There’s quite a common belief that if you provide welfare and lots of financial support to the jobless, they will lose motivation to find work and will become lazy and unproductive; that idea is wrong.
High unemployment benefits do not lead to people becoming lazy and satisfied with their jobless status, a Europe-wide study suggests. The levels of benefit have no apparent impact on the well-being of those without a job, according to the study – as a matter of fact, if anything, there is an inverse correlation: people with higher benefits are most unsatisfied and want to become productive. In Europe, the countries which provide the most generous financial assistance to the unemployed are also the country with the most unhappy unemployed, and vice versa.
Luxembourg and Sweden, for example, are in the top 25 per cent for of both benefit levels and dissatisfaction amongst the jobless. However, at the other end of the spectrum, Poland and Romania are in the bottom 25 per cent for benefit levels yet are countries in which the unemployed are respectively the least and third-least affected by being out of work.
“Those who claim that greater unemployment benefits lead to less motivation for people to seek employment should think again – for most people, it is not the degree of state provisions that determines how they personally feel about the experience of being unemployed. Unemployment does not just result in a loss of income, but also a change in social position – that is perceived differently in different societies.”, said Dr Jan Eichhorn from the Chancellor’s Fellow in the School of Social and Political Science
Instead, cultural and demographic factors have a much bigger influence than the financial aspect. For example, jobless people in countries with an older population and fewer people of working age had a greater negative impact on personal well being than benefit levels. So to does a high level of income inequality.
Germany is hit the hardest by this: being unemployed in Germany hurts way more than anywhere else in Europe – dissatisfaction ith life among unemployed Germans is more than 50% higher than it is among the jobless in the next closest nation – Hungary. In other words, for Germans, it hurts the most to be unemployed; on the other end of the spectrum we have Spain, Poland, and Romania – who have some of the smallest benefits for the unemployed, but the least unhappiness among them; they don’t really care that much about their situation, and are far less likely to try to improve it.