Long-term poverty and long-term recipiency of social assistance are usually regarded as serious social problems which may lead to dependency and psycho-social distress. Long-term recipiency was more common among single parents, the elderly, and people with low qualifications. A widespread assumption in Germany is that the extent of long-term receipt of social assistance has increased during the eighties and example of due to changes in labour market conditions. The new dynamic approach has challenged traditional assumptions about poverty and social assistance: The extent of long-term poverty and long-term receipt of social assistance is not as high as assumed by public opinion and suggested by poverty studies on the basis of cross-sectional data. For most people poverty and social assistance are only short phases in the life-course, and only a minority of people stay on social assistance.