This study investigates an old question that has re-emerged in social policy-making and in analyses of global social development: to what extent does targeting and size of social transfers matter for poverty? Using multilevel logistic regression and LIS income data for 40 middle- and high-income countries, we show that the size of transfer income has greater explanatory value for cross-country differences in poverty than the degree of targeting of transfer income. The results are remarkably robust in terms of estimated individual-level and country-level compositional and confounding factors.
The current economic crisis has presented itself as a formidable challenge to the welfare states of Europe. The issue of minimum income protection has now become more important than ever and whether or note these schemes adequately protect citizens when they are unemployed, retired or having children. Drawing on in-depth and up-to-date institutional data from across Europe and the US, this volume details the reality of minimum income protection policies over time. Including contributions from leading scholars in the field, each chapter provides a systematic cross-national analysis of minimum income protection policies, developing concrete policy guidance on an issue at the heart of the European debate.
In this paper social assistance developments are analyzed in a large number of EU member states, including European transition countries and the new democracies of southern Europe. The empirical analysis is based on the unique and recently established SaMip Dataset, which provides social assistance benefit levels for 27 countries from 1990-2005. It is shown that social assistance benefits have had a less favorable development than that of unemployment provision. Hardly any of the investigated countries provide social assistance benefits above the EU near poverty threshold. Social assistance benefit levels have not converged in Europe. Instead, divergence can be observed, which is mainly due to lagging developments in eastern and southern Europe.
In the Western countries poverty has increased along with the resurgence of low-income targeting and the increased conditionality of social assistance. This paper provides new evidence on the relationship between social minimums and income adequacy by examining the extent to which social benefits distribute income at levels necessary to escape poverty. The empirical analyzes combine macro-level institutional data and micro-level income data for 17 industrialized welfare democracies. It is shown that the period 1990-1995 is characterized primarily by stagnation, whereas social assistance adequacy declined in the latter half of the nineties. In most countries, social assistance fails to provide income above the poverty threshold, something that makes it difficult to conceive benefits as just redistributive instruments.
The purpose of this study is to examine the institutional development of means-tested benefits over the last four decades in a comparative perspective. The countries included in the study are Canada, Germany, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the Untied States. Since a main objective of means-tested benefits is to mitigate and alleviate poverty, the comparisons and evaluations presented in the study are based on the adequacy of benefits, that is, the extent to which provisions are provided at levels sufficient to allow recipients to escape poverty. The long time frame of the study also gives an opportunity to relate to the ongoing theoretical discussion about potential differences in the development of means-tested benefits and social insurance entitlements. Here, two questions are addressed: the extent to which the development of means-tested benefits describes a different pattern than social insurance provisions, and the extent to which means-tested benefits are more prone to cutbacks than social insurance entitlements. The empirical analyses combine institutional information on the level of means-tested benefits with micro-level income data from the Luxembourg Income Study. Over the whole period covered, the development of means-tested benefits resembles more than diverges form that observed in the area of social insurance. Furthermore, despite cutbacks in means-tested benefits in recent years, there is no clear evidence that means-tested benefits are more resistant to retrenchment than social insurance provisions. On the contrary, means-tested benefits seem to be more vulnerable to cutbacks, particularly in Germany and Sweden. Although the curtailments in means-tested provisions in recent years have had negative consequences for their capacity to alleviate poverty, the adequacy of benefits has generally been greatest in Sweden and the United Kingdom, followed by Germany, Canada and the United States.
Substantial cross-national differences in poverty alleviation are well documented, but theextent to which different parts of the social transfer system account for this variation is still relatively unexamined. This study analyses the redistributive effects of specific social policy institutions in a comparative perspective. The main question is to what extent non-targeted provisions and means-tested benefits reduce relative economic poverty in different institutional settings. It is shown that the structure of non -targeted entitlements is more important than that of means-tested benefits in explaining differences in poverty alleviation across countries. The study also presents a new method for estimating the anti-poverty effects of separate parts of the social transfer system. This method decomposes the anti-poverty effects of a set of social transfers into independent and combined effects, which produces more valid results than prevalent methods used to assess the impact of a particular transfer on poverty. The countries included in this study are Canada, Germany, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States. The empirical analyses are based on the Social Citizenship Indicators Program (SCIP) and Luxembourg Income Study (LIS) for data points describing the situation in the mid-1990s.