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Minimum Income Protection and Low-Income Standards: Is Social Assistance Enough for Poverty Alleviation?

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  • Nelson, Kenneth

    ()
    (Swedish Institute for Social Research, Stockholm University)

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    Abstract

    Minimum income protection and social assistance is the last-resort safety net of the welfare state, targeted to the most vulnerable groups in society. Poverty alleviation is thus one chief objective of such benefits. Whether this objective is fulfilled is continuously discussed and debated. This paper provide new evidence on this issue and offers an analysis of social assistance benefit levels in 16 industrialized welfare democracies over the period 1990-2000. It is shown that the period 1990-1995 was characterized primarily by stagnated benefit levels, while in the latter half of the 1990s benefits declined. In most countries, social assistance fails to provide income above the poverty threshold, something that makes it difficult to view these benefits as effective redistributive instruments.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Swedish Institute for Social Research in its series Working Paper Series with number 9/2009.

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    Length: 37 pages
    Date of creation: 14 Dec 2009
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:hhs:sofiwp:2009_009

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