Wages of Nurses in Germany: Large Differences Between Occupations and Regions

Sunday, June 26, 2016: 9:00 AM-10:30 AM
830 Barrows (Barrows Hall)
Dieter Bogai, Institute for Employment Research, Berlin, Germany
Holger Seibert, Berlin, Germany
Mirko Wesling, Scientific staff, Berlin, Germany
Although nurses have long been in high demand in the labor market, wages have not increased at a rate which reflects this demand. In addition to their below-average growth, wages in the nursing profession vary considerably across regions in Germany. The salaries of nurses in the German states are examined for trained hospital nurses and geriatric nurses, as well as for the assistants in these professions. Overall it can be said that elderly caregivers in Germany earn on average about a quarter less than fifth more than professionals in nursing.

The study demonstrates huge regional differences in earnings within the same nursing profession, as well as between different care facilities. Moreover, there is no clear correlation between the level of wages within these nursing professions, and overall wage levels for comparable professions across the 16 federal states. Reasons for the large wage differentials are region-specific factors like unemployment rate and economic strength of the local economy, social deprivation of female occupations and social professions in general, institutional factors such as collective bargaining coverage and different financing of health and social care in the German system of social security. Finally we argue that higher wages in elderly care not only help to alleviate a labor-shortage in these occupations, but also strengthen the social recognition of what is a highly responsible and demanding profession.