Computerisation and Welfare State. The Introduction of Electronic Data Processing in the Statutory Pension Insurance Scheme
Completed PhD project
Since the 1950s, the Federal German welfare state, especially the statutory pension, were at the forefront of computerisation in Germany and used computers to cope with the increasingly complex pension legislation. In my project, I want to shed light on the interplay between an expanding welfare state and the increased usage of computer technology, as well as whether EDP was the pacemaker of certain socio-political decisions and what influence computers had on service orientation, working conditions and data security and privacy.
Starting with the pension reform of 1957, which implemented an individual and dynamic old-age pension, electronical data processing devices proved vital for the increasing expansion of the welfare state that culminated in the pension reform of 1972. At the same time, the computerisation of the social state not only assisted the shift of focus towards a more service-orientated pension fund, but also created an area of conflict between technological developments, providing the best care for the insured, data protection and economic factors. In the GDR, the social security organised by the ‘Free German League of Trade Unions’ (Freier Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund) also used computer technology, but with a certain time-lapse and underdevelopment – while also never reaching the complexity of the West German social laws.
The doctoral project was located at the ZZF in Division IV "The Social Regime". It is one of four subprojects of the project "Departure towards the Digital Society. Computerisation and Social Regimes in West and East Germany" led by ZZF Director Frank Bösch.
On 17 November 2018, Thomas Kasper completed his doctorate at the University of Potsdam with the grade "magna cum laude".
Thomas Kasper, Wie der Sozialstaat digital wurde. Die Computerisierung der Rentenversicherung im geteilten Deutschland, Wallstein Verlag, 2020
published in the ZZF book series: Medien und Gesellschaftswandel im 20. Jahrhundert; Bd. 13