How much people are worth

The formula for the worth of people


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For the German state, too, when it comes to the inner values ​​of its citizens, love and suffering are less important than achievement. The relevant variables: tax and social security income. Seen in this way, the value of a working 30-year-old doctor is one million euros. That of a skilled worker from the metal industry 280,000 euros. This sum would be lost to the state if, for example, the person were to move abroad permanently, have calculated economists at the Ifo Institute at the University of Munich for the Advisory Council on Migration. Bernd Raffelhüschen, Professor of Public Finance at the University of Freiburg, regularly advises politicians and has taken a closer look at the cost-benefit analysis of life. In his calculations, he includes everything that is relevant for the flow of money between the state and citizens, from the dog tax to the probability of illness and life expectancy. The most valuable moment in a biography is around the 25th birthday: The expensive education is over, many years of tax payments lie ahead of you, and retirement is still a long way off. At around 45 years of age, the balance sheet of life tipped, so Raffelhüschen (at least for the state): From then on, until the end of the day, most of them only pay in less than they get.

This fact gave the tobacco company Philip Morris an idea. When Czech politicians claimed that the tobacco industry was a burden on public finances, for example because smokers were more likely to get sick and unable to work, the company commissioned a study that showed how well smoking citizens are for the state: the authors calculated in detail that the country was Save millions because the smoking population dies earlier and thus causes lower costs for pensions, care for the elderly and medical care. "Death benefit" This is what economists call it. The German state also benefits from this: with 194 billion euros in 2011, like the mirror calculated in a fact check. If you subtract the additional costs for medical care, reduced earning capacity, widow's and disability benefits, there is still an increase of 36 billion euros. Tobacco tax not yet included.

Christian Scholz even came up with a formula for the value of people. Business administration students have to learn it at the university, savings banks, auto suppliers and other medium-sized companies use it to calculate the value of their workforce. "In business administration, people actually only appear as factors that cause costs," says Scholz, who is a professor of human resource management at Saarland University. Salary, office, coffee machine, in the end there is always a euro amount behind employees, linked to costs. And costs would have to be reduced. He wanted to counter this thinking. He had spoken to many entrepreneurs who all suspected that the value of their company was somehow related to the employees. But no one had a way of putting it into numbers.

Scholz's formula is not that complicated. In addition to the salary and expenses for personnel development, the calculation also includes motivation, measured by anonymous surveys, relevant knowledge and length of service of the employees. At the end there is an amount in euros, not divided into porter or board member, but an average value. When Scholz calculated the 2006 figures for the Dax 30 companies, he ended up with values ​​between 6,317 euros for an employee of Hypo Real Estate Holding - which went bankrupt shortly afterwards - and 101,410 euros per SAP employee.

The technical term for this is human capital. In 2004 it was chosen as the bad word of the year because it "degrades not only workers in companies, but people in general to only economically interesting figures", according to the jury. Christian Scholz was very annoyed at the time and now uses the word very consciously: From the perspective of the business scientist, it is progress to see people as capital instead of a loss factor.

And giving people a price is not a phenomenon of neo-capitalism. One of the largest slave markets in North America was on a street in New York in the 18th century. People were lined up against a long wall and offered for sale. The wall gave the street its name: Wall Street. Henry Carey collected the prices from back then from the newspapers and in his 1853 book The slave trade held. On average, a "full-grown male slave" cost $ 1,000. When the northern states had triumphed in the civil war and the men and women were freed, many slave owners asked for compensation. One of them was Natiian Foeling from Louisiana; his bill: "Joseph, 55 years old, one-eyed and a little lame," $ 230. "Dinah, a ten year old girl, very bright and trusting," $ 400. "Betsey and John, their kids, 3 and 5 years old, all fat and round, $ 100 each."

In Europe, English doctors and folk scientists first calculated the economic value of humans in the 17th century in order to prove that it would be worthwhile for the state to take action against disease and poverty. Because that brings him healthy labor and armed forces.