New report on the AfD´s increase in voter support – Who are the voters of the AfD and what is the reason for the increase in support for the AfD?

These questions are addressed using data from the WSI Labor Force Panel (10 waves, Apr 20-Jul 23, N= 7,500-5,000) in my detailed report published today.

Who is disproportionately found among AfD voters?

🔵 Men, rarely high education; 30-49 years; lower, middle income

🔵 Highly worried (both financially and socially) and highly strained

🔵 very low institutional trust – especially in Federal government and public media

However, the trust of AfD voters in the AfD can be classified as relatively high. 48% of those who said they would vote for the AfD in July ’23 expressed “high”/”very high” trust in the AfD (only exceeded by the Green voters). ➡️ many convinced AfD voters

At the same time, the proportion of AfD voters with low trust in AfD is similar to that of other parties. These values do not suggest a particularly large number of protest voters, who vote for the AfD without agreement or conviction in terms of content.

Which issues were particularly important to AfD voters shortly after the ’21 federal election? For some issues, there is a great similarity to voters of other parties: job creation and job security, improvement of the care situation, infrastructure investments are all classified as important.

But what were the biggest differences in the assessment of importance between AfD voters and voters of other parties? Limitation of immigration! 95% of current AfD voters mentioned this as an important issue directly after the federal election ´21 (55% of voters of other parties).

In addition, there are very critical, negative, and pessimistic attitudes towards refugees from Ukraine among AfD voters: for example 76% approval in Nov ́22 on “Refugees from Ukraine should join the end of the queue here in Germany for now” (31% voters of other parties)

Conspiracy myths about the pandemic, but also about the Ukraine war, also gained more support among AfD voters. It is also worth noting that half of AfD voters agree with the alternative interpretation of war guilt “NATO provoked Russia to this war” (14% among voters of other parties).

There are also striking differences in terms of experiences in the work context: AfD voters are less likely to report good working conditions. The difference in appreciation and recognition seems particularly relevanz. Only 42% of AfD voters consider their salary to be adequate.

But what can be said about the increase in voter support for the AfD in ’23? To do this, I focus on “AfD new voters” –  those who stated in July ’23 for the 1st time that they wanted to vote for AfD and distinguish them for instance by “AfD regular voters” who never stated anything other than voting for AfD.

From a socio-demographic point of view, it is striking that a lot have been reached recently, which haven´t been reached before that strongly: more women than before (but still less than average), less middle-aged, more with middle-upper incomes, more with financial reserves.

Trust in institutions is also low among new AfD voters, especially in the government and the public media. It can be traced how this group has been losing more and more trust over the last 2 years. Most recently, 89% expressed low confidence in the federal government.

Remarkably, however, new AfD voters tend to have rather little trust in the AfD (I might want to add “so far”). Among them, there are more unconvinced (30%) than convinced (20%) voters. The picture among AfD regular voters is quite different, 71% of them express great confidence in the AfD.

Indications as to why new AfD voters would (nevertheless) opt for the AfD are provided by findings on topics that were important to new AfD voters at the federal election ´21: The issue of limiting immigration was also assessed as important among the vast majority of them (87%). However, there was less agreement on other topics (climate change, role of EU).

New voters of the AfD are also proving to be highly strained and worried. It is worth mentioning that they were consistently heavily strained financially during the last years. However, their view on society was much more positive in ’20 and ’21 and only became overcast massively in ’22.

Their perspective on the pandemic was initially even more positive and cooperative among AfD new voters (e.g. higher vaccination rate), but crumbled in ’22. Among new AfD voters, however, critical, negative, and pessimistic attitudes towards Ukraine refugees are also widespread.

What does the voting migration analysis show? Looking at what respondents voted for in the 2021 federal election, it can be seen that 39% of respondents who said they would vote for the AfD in July ’23 did so already in the federal election almost two years before.

However, another 45% of current AfD voters voted for another party at the federal election. Among them, above all, parts of the 🚥 (FDP, SPD), as well as CDU/CSU. Looking at the voting preference in between (in Nov ́22), it can be seen that the SPD’s losses occurred mainly in the 1st year after the start of the government.

On the other hand, losses for the CDU/CSU took place mainly last year. A third of the current AfD new voters previously stated in Nov ’22 that they wanted to vote for the CDU/CSU. For the AfD’s recent major gains, migration from the CDU/CSU thus appears to be much more relevant (#Mainstreaming effects).

To conclude: AfD relies on enormous dissatisfaction and mistrust in government – here AfD voters are very approachable. AfD has also recently caught on with the highly strained and highly worried; among those who feel the very homogeneously conceived societal cohesion very much threatened by immigration.

The AfD’s new voters were already heavily financially burdened before; however, the particular extent of the burden in the high-inflation phase ’22 and the simultaneous presence of the refugee debate (successful AfD agenda-setting) seem to be decisive for many, because (also this) report clearly shows that those who vote for the AfD do so not in spite of, but because of their anti-immigrant positions – this also applies to the new AfD voters.

AfD only as a protest vote? The relatively high level of trust among their electorate tends to suggest differently.

Hope: among new AfD voters, many are not convinced of AfD — > not so much agreement with other AfD positions (climate change, EU). These voters must be addressed with other than anti-immigrant positions. Not only do they contradict the principles of open democratic societies, they also poison the discourse, exacerbate social cleavages, and shift the boundaries of what can be said to the right, of which democratic parties also rarely benefit (see voter migration analysis).

They need to be approached with positions that are able to reduce their social and financial concerns. Good politics that tackle and solve problems and perceived injustices can ensure that people regain confidence in politics. If, however, public infrastructure often does not work or (affordable) housing is extremely scarce in many regions, creating real competition between natives and immigrants, if insufficient money is made available to successfully integrate immigrants, all this is grist to the mill for political actors who further foment distrust in democratic institutions and want to turn locals against immigrants.

Against this background, austerity policies, cutbacks in social security benefits and further delaying infrastructure spendings – in times of such political and social challenges – appear to be a very dangerous path.

see German version of this Thread with Figures here

The press release as well as the full report can be downloaded here


New findings from our labour force panel: with the 10th wave of the survey, we surveyed around 5,000 employees and jobseekers in July about their worries, burdens and trust in institutions

1) Worries:
➖financial worries stabilize at a high level: 51% are very worried about rising prices, 39% about old-age security
➖Concern about social cohesion at its highest level after steady increase in recent years ➡️ 48% here with major concerns

2) The same applies to perceived financial burdens:
➖ Although the proportion of extremely and heavily burdened people has declined slightly compared to the record high in November ’22, it is still above the value at the beginning of the pandemic
➖ Other loads stabilized at medium to lower levels.

3) Low-income respondents are not only the most likely to report worries about their economic viability. In this group, most financially related worries have continued to rise recently – contrary to the general trend.
The same applies to the financial burdens among respondents with low incomes: financial burdens have recently risen further here, while they are declining among respondents with higher incomes and tend to stagnate at an elevated level in the middle.

4) Institutional trust:
➖for many institutions such as the police, judiciary, trade unions or public law. Media tend to show stabilizing developments
➖The exception is the federal government, which continues to lose trust. The already low proportion with “great”/”very high” trust in the federal government has recently fallen again slightly, while the proportion of those who express “little”/”no confidence at all” has now risen to more than half of the respondents.

5) Trust in the federal government correlates with income situation and perceived burdens:
Respondents with low net household incomes (<€1,500/month) were significantly more likely (62%) to express low trust than respondents with high incomes (>€3,500; 44%).
Respondents who are very worried about the general or individual economic situation or about their jobs are far more likely than average to say that they have little or no trust in the federal government.

6) Relevant differences in institutional trust in East and West: whether in courts, police, armed forces, public law, etc. The media, trade unions or employers’ associations – the proportion of respondents in the East who express high or very high trust is smaller than in the West. Only the “party I vote for” is similarly or very much trusted by respondents in the East as by respondents in the West (43 vs. 42%).

7) AfD voters also express below-average trust in institutions (e.g. police, courts, armed forces, public law). media or trade unions). Their trust in the federal government is particularly low (2.8%). Only the “party I vote for” is something that AfD voters are slightly more likely to trust than the average voter. Among Green voters, trust in the elected party is even greater, and among SPD voters at a similar level.

Method: For the 10th wave of the Labour Force Panel, 5,029 employees and jobseekers were surveyed online by KANTAR in July ’23. The respondents represent the working population in 🇩🇪 terms of gender, age, education and federal state.
The full press release on the findings can be found here:


New data on reliability of public childcare

10 years introduction of the legal right to childcare from the age of 1. To this end, we have asked in the latest wave of our Labour Force Panel how reliably the care is guaranteed – for those who have a spot…

First, as a background, a few figures on the current situation: on 1.3.22, 35.5% of U3 children were in day care. Although this is a steady increase (10 years ago: 29%), this figure is rather low by international standards.

Important: there is a clear difference between the real childcare rate and the need rate – in other words: more parents want places than there are – according to the BMFSFJ the difference is 13.6 percentage points. According to the BIB, there is a shortage of 290,000 places for U3-year-olds.

Also important: the quality of care, for which the care key is usually used. Here, the desired standard is one caregiver for every 3 full-time children to be cared for. Here, the value ’22 for groups with U3 children was 4.0 (W 3.5; O 5,5).

Although more than 200,000 more skilled workers have been added since the daycare entitlement has been in ➡️force, experts estimate that there is currently a shortage of around 98,600 educators in the daycare sector, and by 2030 there could be over 230,000 unfilled positions.

Summing up the situation: the objective of the law is not being met. In view of this situation, we at WSI wanted to know to what extent reliable care is guaranteed for those who have a childcare place. To this end, we asked working and job-seeking parents with children in daycare or with the childminder – as part of our latest, now 10th survey wave of the Labour Force Panel (data from July ’23).

Findings: 57% of employed or job-seeking parents with children in daycare/childminders have recently been confronted with reductions in childcare time and/or temporary closures of facilities due to staff shortages (38% closures; 47% reductions in childcare time).

This poses major problems for many parents in their everyday lives: 67% of those surveyed stated that they find the loss of childcare or the shortening of time stressful (30% even as “very stressful”).

How do parents compensate for this? Almost half of the affected mothers and fathers took leave or reduced overtime during the closure or reduction of childcare time in order to compensate for the childcare gap. ~30% had to temporarily reduce their working hours.

A characteristic gender-specific difference can be seen in how often partners are involved: 63% of the fathers surveyed stated that their partner had stepped in for childcare, but only 33% of the mothers reported this about their partner.

Taken together, this indicates that for many of the parents who have one of the coveted childcare places for their children, care is often not reliably guaranteed – with the corresponding consequences (own burden and work-life balance). The worsening shortage of staff also has problematic consequences for educators. Studies traced the widespread overload and enormous psychological stress in the occupational group, which make the profession less attractive.

What to do? There is no quick solution to the problem – the result of years of development and omissions. It is important to upgrade the profession and make it more attractive: urgently improve working conditions in educational professions; better pay. Ein weiterer Ansatz, den auch Bettina Kohlrausch im Systemrelevant-Podcast diskutiert, wäre eine Ausbildungsoffensive für Erziehungsberufe, gekoppelt an deutlich bessere Personalschlüssel.

The advance publication of the childcare figures from the latest wave of the Labour Force Panel can also be read here in the press release:


New study on trust in labor unions and institutions in general

Most recently, we had observed major changes in trust in institutions in our surveys. After a decline in confidence in all the institutions examined in April ’22, trust in trade unions has recently recorded the greatest gain.

Initially, trust in trade unions fell significantly from 24% to 19% from October 2021 to April 2022, in line with trust levels in other institutions. In November 2022, it rose significantly again to 24% – more than for all other institutions surveyed.

The absolute values may not seem great here. However, we have surveyed institutional trust on a 5-point scale and presented only the two largest manifestations above. Respondents were relatively most likely to place “mediocre” trust in trade unions.

Trust in the public media or the federal government could not recover during the period and even continued to fall. Most recently, between 40 and 48% expressed “little” or “no” trust in the two institutions.

In a detailed analysis of the change in confidence in trade unions, we look at who has particularly low trust in trade unions and who has a particularly high level of trust in trade unions. On the other hand, we look at who has recently gained trust more frequently.

It has a positive effect on trade union confidence when people have a direct connection to trade unions and their activities – for example, they are members themselves or work in a co-determined company. As expected, the “quality of experience” plays an important role here: Employees who are satisfied with the work of their works council also have higher trust in trade unions on average. Those who are dissatisfied are more likely to be suspicious. Also, trade union trust goes hand in hand with that in other institutions, so it is apparently “with fundamental acceptance of the pol. systems”. Trust is also more likely to be above average among supporters of “progressive” parties such as the SPD, Greens, Left (&FDP).

What is noteworthy, however, is that the increase in confidence in trade unions between April and November ’22 affects different groups to a similar extent, including, for example, those who do not vote at all or vote for the AfD.

This suggests that trade unions have the potential to make a convincing offer to those groups that are otherwise rather sceptical about the political and democratic system. In the case of respondents who are very worried, for example because of the general. economic situation or the soz. Inequality, trust in trade unions tends to be lower. However, it increased more frequently than average between April and Nov ’22.

Apparently, the trade unions have recently been perceived by some as a social actor that addresses the problem of social justice in an appropriate way.

The study is based on 3 survey waves of the WSI Labour Force Panel, which surveyed 5,100-6,200 people in the labour force between🇩🇪 Oct ’21-Nov ’22. The full study by Bettina Kohlrausch and myself can be downloaded here:


New study on conspiracy beliefs concerning the war in Ukraine and devaluations of Ukrainian Refugees in Germany is available.

Here are the five main findings:

1) While majority (74%) of the labor force in 🇩🇪 opposes conspiracy beliefs, ~10-20% agree to the statements. Prevalence of devaluations of Ukrainian Refugees in 🇩🇪 are not negligible and temper the picture of the sheerly positive German welcoming culture toward Ukrainians.

Charts show the agreement to the items.
conspiracy beliefs:
11% agree to “the war in Ukraine only serves to distract from the pandemic”.
19% agree to “the war in Ukraine is exactly as dramatized as the pandemic”
devaluations toward Ukrainian Refugees:
38% agree to “we cannot receive even more Refugees in Germany”.
35% do not agree to “Germany should be generous when it comes to receiving Refugees from Ukraine”.
28% agree to “Ukrainian Refugees have to wait in line here in Germany”

2) Conspiracy beliefs appear as pretty open for right-wing content in Germany. Majority of those sharing conspiracy beliefs agree to devaluations of Ukrainian Refugees. Only 4% of respondents sharing conspiracy beliefs do *not* agree to the devaluations.

The top bar shows the distribution of devaluations of Ukrainian Refugees among all respondents: 17% agree to the devaluations. The lowest bar shows the distribution of devaluations among respondens who share conspiracy beliefs: here the agreement rate is 52%.

3) Agreement is higher among the disadvantaged labor force (low income, educational-level) – particularly among the young, (male) disadvantaged.* Experiences of powerlessness & alienation here relevant.

*latter should be interpreted with caution due to small sample sizes.

Chart shows distributions of conspiracy beliefs (top) and devaluations of Ukrainian Refugees (bottom).
The respective bar at the top always displays the distribution among all respondents: 9% agree to conspiracy beliefs; 17% to devaluations. Below displayed are the distributions among specific socio-demographic characteristics: “jung” = young; “geringverdienend” = low income; “geringe Schulbildung” = low educational level;
Agreement among young & low educational level (“jung und geringe Schulbildung”): conspiracy beliefs 26%, devaluations 30%

4) Majority of those sharing conspiracy beliefs about the war in 🇺🇦 also shared pandemic-related conspiracy beliefs earlier. Shows how exchangeable & adaptable the content of conspiracies is. Also: here much more often uncooperative behaviors during pandemic (vax…)

30% of those who agreed 1,5 years ago to “I can imagine that behind the pandemic is an elite that tries to create a new world order” now agree to conspiracy beliefs about the Ukraine war (all respondents: 9%).
31% of the unvaxxed respondents (in January ´22) agree now to the conspiracy beliefs about the Ukraine war. (9% among all respondents; 5% among “boostered” respondents).
22% of those respondents who assessed 2 years ago the protection measures against the virus as unjustified now agree to the conspiracy beliefs aout the Ukraine war. (all respondents: 9%)

5) financial and job worries, as well as political alienation – both recently much more widespread in Germany – are also highly relevant. In crises such as this one, insecurities and lack of trust are particularly potent.

agreement among respondents with worries about their job security: conspiracy beliefs 21%, devaluations: 28% (all respondents: 9% and 17%)
agreement among respondents with worries about their career perspectives: conspiracy beliefs 18%, devaluations: 31% (all respondents: 9% and 17%)

These findings should raise awareness for the threat of further destabilization processes. It becomes obvious how compatible and attractive conspiracy beliefs can become and how quickly solidarity is revoked, when financial securities begin to sway.

The findings also show relatively small but in their attitudes highly solid clientele that has most widely turned its back on democratic discourses, with great distrust in societal institutions and that predominantly behaved uncooperatively during the pandemic.

Data: The data is from the @boeckler_de-labor-force-study, a panel-study that repeatedly surveyed 6.000-7.500 respondents (labor-force >16 years). The first survey took place in April ´20. Most of the findings presented here are from the latest 8th wave surveyed in Apr/May´22.

You can download the full German report here:


New paper published on explaining when older persons are perceived as a burden

The paper in a nutshell: we have previously developed a concept we called “marketized mentality” (or “MM”) that depicts a strong personal commitment to the principal values associated with the market economy.

In our prior studies, we found that people with MM are more likely to devaluate groups such as the unemployed, the homeless, persons with disabilities, but also immigrants because such persons are readily stigmatized as being “unprofitable”. We now wanted to test, whether such a mechanism also holds true for the phenomenon of ageism (i.e. the devaluation of older persons) with a specific interest in the perception of older persons as burdensome. We made use of World Values Survey data of individuals from 59 countries.

We find that individuals exhibiting MM – a mentality characterized by a dominance of egoistic, market values at the expense of moral solidarity – are particularly likely to perceive older persons as burdensome. Moreover, we consider country characteristics and find that countries where MM is widespread are associated with high levels of ageism, too. Other important predictors: a low share of older people and fast ageing countries, stressing the importance of favorable in-gorup-out-group constellations as well as of pressures of demographic aging that amplify the perception of older populations as being burdensome.

MM appers useful for explaining both individual-level and country-level variation in the perception that older persons are a burden to society. The results also suggest that MM serves as a devaluation mechanism that operates in a similar manner across different target groups.

Here´s my twitter-Thread on the paper:

Our new findings of the labor-force-panel paint picture of highly unsettled society

With the latest wave of the HBS-labor-force-panel (data from April ´22), we analyzed the worries and burdens in a time of pandemic, war in Ukraine and record inflation. The findings are summarized in this Twitter-Thread:

New findings of the labor-force-panel: mothers´ situation particularly worrisome

We analyzed the latest wave of the HBS-labor-force-panel and published our findings. In short: while securing and protecting the financial situation of most of the working force worked rather well in Germany, ensuring and supporting the care-work is largely lacking at the cost of mothers. They feel exhausted and let down.

Mothers report particularly high and recently again rising strain in several branches of life. They report the highest rates of worry about the societal situation, for example the worry about social cohesion.

We see an incredible amount of loss of trust among mothers: 78% report that they are unsatisfied with the crisis handling of the federal government – a record low during the pandemic.

Many among them do not feel sufficiently protected from the virus amidst record incidences among children. The worry about infection rose considerably again among mothers.

The insufficient protection of care work during the pandemic led to a privatization of care work. And who covers? Recently again the mothers. While during the first lockdown also the fathers took responsibility here, this was only a temporary phenomenon. Since then the share of mothers who take the main part of the care work rose constantly.

Finally, mothers report more often reduction of working hours as a result of the often very last-minute lack of public care. Every fifth mother reports a reduction of working hours to take care of her children. Only during the first strict lockdown, we saw higher values.

Here´s the full press release (only German):

Here´s a Twitter thread about the findings (in German):

Podcast on Transformation attitudes

Together with Bettina Kohlrausch and Marco Herack, I had the chance to talk about our study on attitudes to transformation, such as digitalization and socioecological transformation in the Systemrelevant-Podcast of the Hans-Böckler-Foundation (unfortunately, only German). Thank you, that was big fun.

Here are helpful visualizations of the findings that I present in the podcast:


Study on impact of work and transformation on illiberal-authoritarian anti-democratic attitudes in Germany now published in English

We translated and published our study on anti-democratic attitudes now as a WSI-Policy Brief. The study shows what an enormous Herculean task the pressing future challenges of digitalization and socioecological transformation represent and how big the potential for further societal polarization lies dormant in them. It becomes clear that the socially deprived in Germany experience transformation processes as greater threat and are in greater opposition than those with sufficient resources. Transformation processes harbor the danger of further societal polarization resulting in more prevalent anti-democratic attitudes.

Here´s a comprehensive summary of some of the main findings in a Twitter Thread:

The full study can be downloaded here: