Regional infrastructures, living conditions and perceptions of inequality

Project 1 seeks to identify the role of public services and regional infrastructures in generating inequalities in living conditions among individuals, social groups, and regions in Germany.

The four key public services of healthcare, housing, education, and childcare provision are the focus of investigation. These services (a) exhibit strong regional and temporal variation, (b) play a central role in the public debate on equality of opportunity, (c) affect all citizens across the life course, and (d) are a central tenet of the German constitution (GG §72 (2)), that of achieving equivalent living conditions across Germany. For the outcomes of regional disparities in these four key areas of public services, Project 1 focuses on two dimensions: (1) subjective perceptions of inequality and (2) physical and mental health and well-being. Both dimensions are not only (direct and indirect) outcomes of regional disparities in public service provision but also a potential mediator between regional disparities and political behavior.

The empirical approach of Project 1 is characterized by three key features: First, it aims to model inequality in outcomes (e.g., individual health) as dependent on the inequality of regional-level opportunities (e.g., healthcare provision). Economically weak regions are affected more severely by declining healthcare, childcare, and educational services and by a lack of modernized housing. At the same time, housing prices and rental costs in densely populated urban regions with surplus migration may impose a major burden on household finances. These processes increase the inequality of opportunities within and between regions, and have differential effects on living conditions of regionally stratified sub-populations.

Second, Project 1 will follow a consistent longitudinal and regional (contextual) perspective by identifying changes in regional opportunity structures (infrastructure) in the past that may underlie changes observed in individual living conditions, especially mental and physical health and well-being, over the life-span.

Third, this project will investigate how regional opportunity structures determine the perception and evaluation of social inequality.

Doctoral Students

Barbara Stacherl

Research Associate of the
German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP)
Project 1: Regio Health

Copyright: DIW Berlin / F.Schuh

Maria Schäfer

Research employee
Bielefeld University
Project 1: Regio Health

Copyright: Private