Social Justice Research

, Volume 31, Issue 2, pp 182–205 | Cite as

Social Justice Beliefs Regarding Old-Age Provisions in Germany: A Latent Profile Analysis

  • Janna Franke
  • Julia Simonson


Examining personal beliefs about social justice in the way a society provides financial security in old age may reveal potential conflicts about the distribution of wealth. Individuals differ with regard to how they believe old-age provisions should be distributed (e.g., based on principles of merit or self-reliance), and individuals often endorse more than one belief at the same time. Using latent profile analysis and data from the 2014 German Ageing Survey we identify five separate profiles of social justice beliefs among older adults (40–85 years) in Germany. Belief profiles were based on the extent to which people simultaneously endorse and/or reject meritocratic, redistributive, self-reliant, and fatalistic ideas regarding old-age provisions. Almost 20% of the sample demonstrated a belief system in line with the German meritocratic system. Roughly three-fifth did not show strong preferences for a specific social justice principle. However, we identified two belief profiles representing 22.4% of the sample which may reflect dissent from the current system. Sociodemographic characteristics, political identification, and indicators of social disadvantage (e.g., lower income, fears of decline in social status, and feelings of social exclusion) were differentially associated with the five belief profiles. Overall, the results showed that in particular people of lower socioeconomic status were critical with respect to the principles of the German pension system raising questions regarding the demand of political interventions.


Beliefs about social justice Financial security in old age Latent profile analysis Germany German Ageing Survey 



We would like to thank the editor and the two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments and suggestions. The paper has benefited from comments by seminar participants at WZB Writing Workshop. Moreover, we would like to thank Oliver Huxhold and Alberto Lozano for their helpful comments and suggestions.


This study was funded by the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women, and Youth (BMFSFJ) (Grant No. 301-6083-05/003*2).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.German Centre of Gerontology (Deutsches Zentrum für Altersfragen (DZA))BerlinGermany
  2. 2.Berlin Graduate School of Social SciencesBerlinGermany

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