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The last safety net

The last safety net: A handbook of minimum income protection in Europe

Thomas Bahle
Vanessa Hubl
Michaela Pfeifer
Copyright Date: 2011
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  • Book Info
    The last safety net
    Book Description:

    Minimum income protection provides the last social safety net for people in need. The book provides a systematic comparative and longitudinal analysis of minimum income protection systems in 17 EU countries based on a newly developed dataset. Country-specific chapters providing institutional overviews are combined with comparative quantitative indicators on issues such as benefit levels, expenditures and beneficiaries. The book will be of major interest to researchers, scholars and experts in income protection, poverty and the welfare state.

    eISBN: 978-1-84742-726-7
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. List of tables and figures
    (pp. v-vi)
  4. List of abbreviations
    (pp. vii-x)
  5. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xi-xii)
    Thomas Bahle, Vanessa Hubl and Michaela Pfeifer
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)

    The European welfare states have developed the most extensive systems of social protection in the world. Europe’s citizens are covered by social insurance schemes providing protection against sickness, unemployment, invalidity, and old age. Pensions and healthcare services are available for the vast majority of the population. Many countries also have well-developed benefits and services for families with children and for older persons in need of care. Nonetheless, poverty has never disappeared, and means-tested minimum income protection (MIP) has thereby remained a necessity. Large population groups receive MIP benefits in a number of European countries. More than 20% of older persons...

  7. ONE Defining and measuring minimum income protection
    (pp. 13-22)

    This chapter introduces the conceptual and empirical basis of the project. The first section provides the project’s definition of minimum income protection (MIP) and delineates the object of investigation. The second part gives an overview of the data sources and the structure of the database that forms the empirical foundation of the study.

    Each country’s social security system is unique in its institutional architecture and in the relationships between its constituting elements. The design of MIP systems and their role within the welfare state vary both internationally and over time. The first major challenge is therefore to develop a common...

  8. TWO Welfare state contexts
    (pp. 23-52)

    MIP is a means of securing a basic standard of living for those population groups that are not adequately covered and protected by social insurance or general non-means-tested benefits. Hence, the role of MIP in the welfare state context can be interpreted as residual. On the other hand, a close look at the margins of the welfare state gives insights into the contents and limits of social citizenship rights as defined by Marshall in 1950 (Leibfried, 1992; Marshall and Bottomore, 1992). Even if residual in quantitative terms, MIP is a central policy instrument for promoting citizens’ chances to participate in...

  9. THREE Country analyses
    (pp. 53-154)

    This chapter studies the institutional structure and quantitative development of national MIP systems. Each of the 17 countries is presented in a separate section, which is organised as follows: the first part analyses the role of MIP in the overall social security system in a historical perspective. The second part describes the present welfare state context of MIP systems in three policy areas: old-age pensions, unemployment insurance, and family policies. This second part relates to the comparative analysis of the welfare state presented in Chapter Two. The third part gives a concise overview of each country’s MIP system. It shows...

  10. FOUR Comparative analyses
    (pp. 155-230)

    This chapter studies the MIP systems in the 17 European countries in comparative perspective. The first section analyses the MIP benefit levels for adults of working age and their families. The crucial aspect is how the generosity of needs-based social citizenship rights deviates from average incomes and other social benefits (see Chapter Two). The more deviation can be observed, the less are generous basic social citizenship rights institutionalised in society. The second section compares aggregate MIP caseloads (recipients) across countries for three population groups: the total population (including children), adults at working age, and persons at pension age. These figures...

  11. Conclusion
    (pp. 231-238)

    More than 15 years ago, the seminal study by Eardley et al (1996) observed great differences between OECD countries’ social assistance schemes. The analyses provided in our book show that MIP systems in Europe continue to vary substantially between countries. This conclusion summarises the findings in line with the three research questions that were defined in the Introduction. First, the similarities and differences between European MIP systems are evaluated in light of different welfare state contexts. Second, the issue of changes over time is discussed. Finally, the short-term impact of the current economic crisis is assessed. While it is too...

  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 239-262)
  13. Index
    (pp. 263-271)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 272-272)