Energy Efficiency of the Housing Stock: Are potential savings overrated?
Claus Michelsen, S. Müller-Michelsen
Wirtschaft im Wandel,
A core element of the European Climate Protection Policy is the reduction of Energy usage in private households. Legal instruments focus particularly on private multifamily housing. When refurbishing or building a new home, the German regulation for energy saving in buildings and building systems, Energieeinsparverordnung (EnEV 2009), thereby formulates relatively strict standards on energy conservation. But these standards mainly address the technical potentials of energy efficiency gains instead of considering market conditions and different types of housing, especially their age. Theory suggests that legal settings therefore retain owners to refurbish their homes, when returns on investment are negative, especially in regions where market conditions do not allow for higher rents or the costs of refurbishment are too high.
The article presents evidence for these theoretical considerations: based on a large scale sample provided by the company ista Germany, it can be shown, that energy usage differs by the age of dwellings and by the standard of refurbishment. Data suggests that the assumed potentials of energy conservation, which are mainly motivated by technical considerations, are too high. The differences may be a result of different cost functions of refurbishment. Further evidence for this finding is provided by architectural considerations.
As a result, the article suggests to legally distinguishing between different types of housing and to consider market conditions, when providing public funding for energy efficiency. It is suggested to implement a two multidimensional strategy, considering climate protection, urban development issues and the rationality of real estate investors.
The coalition treaty from a fiscal point of view
Wirtschaft im Wandel,
After weeks of negotiations the coalition finally agreed on the conditions for their political work. Not surprisingly, the coalition agreement is complex and intransparent – with a multitude of single measures far away from a precise definition. Quantifying the programme and estimating resulting cash flows is currently difficult; official calculations are – if at all – only partly available. Anyhow, the contract will form the basis for economic policy during the next four years; therefore its evaluation by now is indispensable. The thin red line of the agreement – not astonishingly when considering the precarious financial situation of the public sector – is consolidation. However, more than 80% of the consolidation volume results from the revenue side. Though one third of this is due to the cutback of tax exemptions, the lion’s share comes from raising tax rates, mainly the VAT standard rate. In contrast, cutting back public expenditure is minor and the agreement clearly comes short of the Koch/Steinbrück proposal; even new tax reliefs are created. The consolidation is almost completely borne by private households. Enterprises as a whole are barely hit. However, they have to wait until 2008 for a reform of company taxation – one of the most pressing problems in this legislative period. To reduce the companies tax burden until the reform starts the conditions for tax depreciation are temporarily relaxed. Anyway, from an international point of view the statutory tax rate is an important signal to enterprises deciding where to invest. Lowering effective tax rates by changing depreciation conditions is intransparent and, thus, will be less effective. Furthermore savings within the public sector are planned to accomplish consolidation; 10 billion Euro should result from efficiency gains and reduced expenditure. Consolidation measures mainly focus on the budget of the federal government. However, Länder and communities will participate in the additional tax revenues. In contrast, social securities will loose – and therefore also the share of employment that is subject to social insurance contribution. Particularly the unemployment insurance will be burdened by the decrease of its premium rate. Besides, the federal government will reduce its grants to the pension funds and most notably the health system. The contract is dominated by fiscal constraints. Cyclical requirements are considered only cursory and pressing structural reforms are put off. The reforms of company’s taxation, of fiscal federalism, of the health system as well as a proceeding reform of the labour market are only proposed. How and when measures in these fields are realised will determine whether fiscal policy can set a new course.
Sind Haushalte mit Wohneigentum sparsamer als Mieterhaushalte?
IWH Discussion Papers,
In this paper examines the data of the income and consumption survey of 1998 with regard to savings and wealth. Households owning their property (owner households) and households renting the property (tenant households) are analysed seperatly and then compared. For further insight these two groups are also devided into East and West German households. In 1998, almost half of the West German and almost a quarter of the East German private households owned property they occupied themselves. The average owner household saves a monthly amount three times as large as the tenant household. The decisive economizing motive for the owner households is servicing its mortgages and loans. However, at the same time, there is the necessity to form reserves for the property maintainance as well as the renovation. In comparison to tenant households, owner households which no longer have to service mortgages or loans, have a higher average rate of saving. The estimate of the saving by means of regression analysis confirms the significant positive influence of the “owner” status on savings. However, in every estimate the houshold’s income proves to be the main influence on savings activity.
The Impact of Social Security Contributions on Savings: An Analysis of German Households by Category
Ulrich Blum, Marc Gaudry
Jahrbuch für Sozialwissenschaft,