Facts about Germany 2015 2015 - Page 130

128 | 129 SOCIETY TOPIC STRONG WELFARE STATE Germany has one of the most comprehens- principle of the welfare state is embedded in ive welfare systems. As in other developed article 20, paragraph 1 and article 28 of the democracies, in Germany too social spend- Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Ger- ing represents the largest individual item of many. Politicians and social players must public spending. Around 849 billion euros continually renegotiate which form it takes was committed to public social spending in in a dynamic process; particularly demo- 2014, equating to a share of 29 percent of graphic change necessitates adjustments. gross domestic product (GDP). The tradition of the state welfare system goes back to the Social network to protect against age of industrialisation in Germany in the existential risks second half of the 19th century and are associated with the then Reich Chancellor Today a tightly woven web of state health, Otto von Bismarck. It was under Bismarck pension, accident, nursing care and unem- that firstly mandatory health insurance for ployment insurance protects citizens against workers was introduced in 1883, and with the consequences of existential risks and the social legislation that was expanded in threats. Moreover, the social network en- the following years the basis was created for compasses a basic income for pensioners and an orientation on the welfare state. The those permanently unable to work as well as fiscal benefits such as the family allowance system (child benefit, tax advantages). Following a further increase in 2015, families NUMBER 30.4 m is the number of employees subject to mandatory social insurance contributions that the Federal Employment Agency counted in December 2014. This equates to 75 to 80 percent of all employees. The figure does not include those not subject to mandatory social insurance contributions, i.e. civil servants, the self-employe B