Project in detail

Saving and Old-Age Provision in Germany (SAVE)

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A major acknowledgement of previous research projects on savings formation in Germany has been that the available data (such as those obtained from the income and consumption sample (EVS), the debit & credit questionnaire "Soll und Haben", or the socio-economic panel (SOEP)) set narrow limits to findings because of considerable gaps in the scope and breadth of such surveys. To bridge this gap, MEA initiated the study “Saving and Old-Age Provision” (SAVE) in 2001. The main goal of the study was to create a sound empirical base to better understand households’ saving behavior and asset choices. It was thus designed to collect at the household level detailed information on income, financial and real assets as well as debt in combination with a rich set of psychological questions, questions on health, expectations and attitudes. Furthermore, it was set up as a longitudinal study to allow monitoring developments over time and studying reactions to macroeconomic and institutional changes. Several tasks such as the preparation of the questionnaires, the processing of the data as well as the development of a procedure for the imputation of missing responses are conducted by researchers at MEA. The final datasets are stored at the German Central Data Archive (ZA) in Cologne and are publicly available for scientific research. By now more than 100 external researchers have used the data for various projects. SAVE data are also used internally at MEA within the scope of various research endeavors. Although much has been learnt in the last years on the behavioral aspects of handling risk, uncertainty, and long-term planning, the specific challenges posed by the recent socio-economic and political developments such as the shift toward towards defined contribution (DC) plans and the recent economic and financial crises require an extensive amount of detailed data to provide pointed answers. To test the feasibility of such a procedure the ninth wave of the SAVE survey (conducted in 2011/2012) was run in collaboration with the Institute for Employment Research (IAB) of the German Federal Employment Agency; Stefan Bender is in charge on the part of IAB. Respondents and their partners were asked for written consent to link their survey data with their administrative records stored at the Federal Employment Agency (BA). The administrative records contain daily information on wages and social transfer payments received since 1975, as well as information on the participation in active labor market programs (from year 2000 onwards). The labor market histories are further enhanced with additional information on the employers at the establishment level (such as economic sector of activity or qualification and age structure of its labor force) drawn from the Establishment History Panel. All individuals who have worked at least one day as an employee paying social security contributions in Germany are included in these administrative records. About 58% of the households successfully interviewed in 2011/2012 agreed to data linkage. While the survey data are already available to the scientific community, their linkage with the administrative records is not concluded yet. After funding by the German Research Foundation (DFG) has expired, a proposal (jointly with Prof. Ulrich Becker, from the Social Law department) for the funding of a further wave in 2013 has been successfully submitted to the German Insurance Science Association (DVfVW). The fieldwork started in the late spring of 2013. By the end of the year 2014 a public version of the dataset was made available to the scientific community. The data supports research on many topics related to saving behavior, such as the role of information, trust and attitudes on the demand for old-age provision products, or the trade-off between increased saving and longer working lives.

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