Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy

Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy

In accordance with its interdisciplinary orientation the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy examines socio-political issues from a legal and economic perspective. The Department of Foreign and International Social Law investigates, mainly by way of comparative research, the particular features of social law as an instrument for the implementation of social policy measures and as a special field of administrative law. The main focus is on systems that safeguard against social risks, such as illness, old age, long-term care, invalidity, unemployment and accidents, as well as systems that provide social aid and support. A systematic study of the principal developments in social law is of central importance. The emphasis here is primarily on three interlinked processes: reforms in the social security systems of developed countries, the Europeanisation and internationalisation of social law, and the establishment of social benefit systems in developing countries.
The research of the Institute’s second department, named Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA), focuses on those socio-political issues that are associated with demographic change and the aging of the population. Empirical models that base on German, European and global data and their resulting projections enable MEA to deliver sound scientific advice for economic and social policy. MEA is part of several international research networks and thus combines academic research on a high international level with strictly scientific policy consultancy. Both departments work together closely, particularly with regard to the effects of social law on economic behaviour patterns in Germany and abroad.


Amalienstr. 33
80799 München
Phone: +49 89 38602-0
Fax: +49 89 38602-490

PhD opportunities

This institute has no International Max Planck Research School (IMPRS).

There is always the possibility to do a PhD. Please contact the directors or research group leaders at the Institute.

Department Foreign and International Social Law


Department Munich Center for the Economics of Aging

A hyperactive legislator

Numerous changes in asylum and residency law have led to differences in the way that the law is applied and legal uncertainty

Asylum facilities that violate laws

Conditions in Greek EU hotspots and German arrival centres violate fundamental rights and EU directives

Educational opportunities are more dependent on social background than ethnicity

Newly published anthology provides an overview of ethnic inequalities in education and training

Intergenerational cohesion in Europe is strong

Long-term study shows opportunities and risks for the aging population in Europe

"If the European Union wants to be a single market, it also must jointly regulate external access."

The profound influx of refugees has plunged the EU asylum system into a crisis. In this interview, Ulrich Becker, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy talks about " the results of a new study on the social protection rights of refugees in Europe.


Compulsory retirement for mayors at 65? Too old to embark on a career as a firefighter at 30? Age limits seem out of tune with the times – even virtually discriminatory. Yet there is one age limit that most people are happy to hold onto: retirement age. Ulrich Becker, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy in Munich, studies the characteristics of age-specific regulations and their legal intricacies.

Everyone who has worked for a long time wants to enjoy a sufficient pension. But is this still realistic given the scale of demographic change? How could the social insurance system be reformed to take the pressure off contributors and still prevent poverty in old age? Axel Börsch-Supan conducts research in the politically charged field of pension financing, extended life expectancy and the threat of declining solidarity at the Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA), part of the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy. He says the most important area to improve upon is labor force participation.

Individual social therapy can help reduce the risk of relapse among sex offenders.

PhD Positions (m/f/d) | Digital Health

Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy, München November 16, 2020

Post-doctoral Researcher (m/f/d) | Applied Economics

Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy, Munich October 29, 2020

Retirement incentives: The dramatic change in old-age employment from 1980 until today

2019 Börsch-Supan, Axel; Coile, Courtney

Jurisprudence Social and Behavioural Sciences

Since the late 1990s, the formerly dramatic decline in older men’s labor force participation has been replaced by sharply rising participation rates. Older women’s participation has increased dramatically as well. As our research at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy unveils, pension reforms and the increase in the financial incentives to work at older ages can explain this historic reversal.


A comparative study of the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy systematizes the reforms in nine European countries affected by the financial crisis in the field of social protection. The project embeds the reforms in social protection in the constitutional framework of each country, by investigating the ways in which the application of constitutional law has changed during the crisis and the impact that this change had on social rights and the welfare state as a whole.


A study at the Max-Planck-Institute for Social Law and Social Policy examines the impact of the European refugee crisis in 2015 on the subjective well-being of older natives in 10 European countries. The authors find that this impact is associated with the media attention and news coverage of the refugee influx. The impact is positive in countries with a “favorable” and negative in countries with an “unfavorable” coverage. Subjective well-being can reflect perceptions and sentiments regarding refugees that are associated with media coverage.


A study at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy analyses the legal arrangement for the regulation of state support with regard to further education programs by means of benefits in kind and cash in Germany and Sweden. These programs are largely provided by third parties, much like many other social services. The purpose of the examination is to find out how both states ensure the fulfilment of the objectives of the programs. For this purpose, the legal systems in Germany and Sweden are compared.


Policies for inclusive ageing societies

2015 Börsch-Supan, Axel; Kneip, Thorsten

Jurisprudence Social and Behavioural Sciences

According to findings from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE), population ageing in Europe does not inevitably entail frictions between generations but also offers opportunities for strengthening cohesion. The social isolation of informal caregivers can be mitigated with an increased availability of formal care. And although impairment leads to reduced social activities, to cognitive decline and depression this vicious circle can be broken by early intervention.

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