Understanding and attitudes towards old-age provision in Germany (VHAlt)

Demographic change has an impact on the sustainability of statutory pension insurance. On the one hand, this poses a challenge for socio-political decision-makers, as they have to adequately communicate the necessary adjustments and convince those affected of their meaningfulness. On the other hand, the developments go hand in hand with increasing demands on the working population, because the resulting greater personal responsibility for old-age provision takes place in an environment of increasing uncertainty. To solve this problem, one of the demands is to improve general financial literacy through means of financial education.

Both aspects – communication or information and financial education – should lead to desired changes in behaviour (acceptance of reforms, commitment to other forms of old-age provision). However, this requires knowledge about whether and to what extent citizens adequately understand the system of old-age provision. The importance of the understanding (or misunderstanding) of a certain content area for opinion formation and behaviour is underpinned by studies from other research areas. However, no findings are available for the area of old-age provision. The project aims to contribute to closing this research gap. In particular, the following, central socio-political research questions will be investigated: (1) What are the (mis)understandings and attitudes towards old-age provision in Germany? (2) Do (mis)understanding and attitudes vary for certain population groups? (3) Can causal relationships (cause-effect relationships) be identified between (mis)understanding, attitudes and behaviour in the context of old-age provision? (4) What recommendations for action can be derived and supported through the development of communication recommendations and exemplary learning units?

The research approach is innovative in terms of content through recourse to interdisciplinary theoretical approaches and the focus on different groups. Methodologically, the combination of qualitative and quantitative approaches, the careful development of instruments as well as the “survey experiments”, which have not yet been used in the context of old-age provision, represent innovative elements.

Further information on the VHAlt project can be found here.

The project is funded by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS) within the framework of the Funding Network for Interdisciplinary Social Policy Research (FIS).

Project duration: 09/2019 to 02/2023

Project team

  • Prof. Dr. Carmela Aprea
  • Ronja Baginski

Cooperation partners

Prof. Dr. Silke Übelmesser; Jana Schütz (Friedrich Schiller University Jena); Prof. Dr. David Leiser Leiser (Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel)

Project advisory group

Dr. Leila Akremi (Forschungsnetzwerk Alterssicherung FNA); Dr. Stefan Mondorf (Confederation of German Employers' Associations BDA); Ingo Schäfer (Confederation of German Trade Unions DGB); Martin Seyfer (Teacher at the Wilhelm-Röpke-School in Ettlingen)

Project-related presentations

Aprea, C., Schultheis, J. & Baginski, R. (2020). (Mis)conceptions of young adults about the system of old-age provision in Germany: An interview study. Presentation at the Annual Conference of the Section for Vocational and Business Education, September 2020, Hamburg.

Aprea, C., Übelmesser, S., Baginski, R., Schütz, J. (2019). Understanding and attitudes towards old-age provision in Germany: characteristics and effects on provision-related behaviour (VHAlt). Poster presentation at the 3rd FIS Forum Dialogue, Strategy and Networking, October 2019, Berlin.


Schütz, J., Übelmesser, S., Baginski, R. & Aprea, C. (2022). Pension reform preferences in Germany: Does information matter?CESifo Working Papers, 10072. München: Munich Society for the Promotion of Economic Research.