Social security: Do you get more from the German state than you pay in?

Social security: Do you get more from the German state than you pay in?

Social security: Do you get more from the German state than you pay in?

We pay taxes to the state, but we also receive pensions, unemployment benefits and child benefits. Use the calculator below to find out how much you get out of social security in Germany, compared to how much you put in.

Social security

For citizens of a welfare state, complaining about taxes and levies is as much a part of life as tacitly enjoying the associated benefits. When we look at our payslips, we get annoyed about income taxes and contributions to social security and conveniently forget how much use we make of the things financed by our contributions. 

Of course, we all drive on public roads and check ourselves into hospital. We send our children to state schools and rely on the protection of the police. We also receive money directly from the state, in the form of child benefits, parental allowances, unemployment benefits or pension payments. 

Can you receive more money than you put in?

It shouldn't really come as a surprise that, according to a recent study by the Institute of German Business (IW), the bottom half of the population in terms of income receive more payments from the state than they pay in taxes. Only the top-earning half of the population pay more than they receive.

The richest ten percent of the population paid, on average, 47.600 euros more than they received from the state in 2019. The poorest ten percent of the population received a net average of 4.400 from the state, although it was the second poorest ten percent that received the most; receiving a net average of 6.400 euros.

According to the report's author, Martin Beznoska, this is due to the second poorest income class benefiting more from pensions, while non-income taxes, like VAT, hit the poorest the hardest.

Interactive calculator

You can use the interactive calculator below (in German) to find out whether your household receives more from social security than it pays in and vice versa. The calculator was published by the IW in conjunction with their study and will show you how much you pay in social security, compared to how much you should receive.

You just need to enter your household income and the number of adults and children (aged below 14) in your household, to get an overview of the taxes paid and payments received. The numbers should be taken as average values for all households on a similar income, since the calculator cannot represent all individual conditions like social benefits and health benefits. 


Through their study, the IW want to show that the redistribution of wealth through social security does work in Germany. Whether lower income earners should receive less, or higher income earners pay more, remains a debate that will no doubt continue to rage on.

William Nehra


William Nehra

William studied a masters in Classics at the University of Amsterdam. He is a big fan of Ancient History and football, particularly his beloved Watford FC.

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