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The Generosity of Social Insurance, 1971--2002


  • Lyle Scruggs


International comparisons of national social policy rely overwhelmingly on programme spending ratios. However, there are widespread problems with this type of data as an indicator of trends in societies' commitments to social protection. This paper suggests an alternative approach to understanding social commitments and introduces a new international data set of social insurance programmes that is comprised of important characteristics of three types of public insurance: unemployment, sick pay, and public pensions. The data are available annually from the 1970s for 18 OECD countries. Looking more closely at trends in two programme characteristics, income replacement rates and programme coverage, we develop an indicator of expected benefits. According to this indicator, there is considerably more evidence of welfare state retrenchment in recent years than most analyses of public spending have suggested. Copyright 2006, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Lyle Scruggs, 2006. "The Generosity of Social Insurance, 1971--2002," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 22(3), pages 349-364, Autumn.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:oxford:v:22:y:2006:i:3:p:349-364

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    Cited by:

    1. Pallage, Stéphane & Scruggs, Lyle & Zimmermann, Christian, 2013. "Measuring Unemployment Insurance Generosity," Political Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 21(04), pages 524-549, September.
    2. Busemeyer, Marius R. & Goerres, Achim & Weschle, Simon, 2008. "Demands for redistributive policies in an era of demographic aging: The rival pressures from age and class in 15 OECD countries," MPIfG Discussion Paper 08/3, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.
    3. Bergh, Andreas, 2013. "Topping up and the Political Support for Social Insurance," Working Paper Series 993, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
    4. Barth, Erling & Moene, Karl O. & Willumsen, Fredrik, 2015. "Reprint of "The Scandinavian model—An interpretation"," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 127(C), pages 17-29.
    5. Koopmans, Ruud, 2008. "Tradeoffs between equality and difference: Immigrant integration, multiculturalism, and the welfare state in cross-national perspective," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Migration, Integration, Transnationalization SP IV 2008-701, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
    6. Eichhorst, Werner & Feil, Michael & Braun, Christoph, 2008. "What have we learned? Assessing labor market institutions and indicators," IAB Discussion Paper 200822, Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), Nürnberg [Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany].
    7. Barth, Erling & Moene, Karl O. & Willumsen, Fredrik, 2014. "The Scandinavian model—An interpretation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 117(C), pages 60-72.
    8. Bartels, Charlotte, 2012. "Long-term participation tax rates," Discussion Papers 2012/20, Free University Berlin, School of Business & Economics.
    9. Fernandez, Juan J., 2010. "Economic crises, high public pension spending and blame-avoidance strategies: Pension policy retrenchments in 14 social-insurance countries, 1981 - 2005," MPIfG Discussion Paper 10/9, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.
    10. Amine Samir, 2016. "The Canadian Unemployment Insurance Generosity: Reflections from a Comparative Analysis," Comparative Economic Research, De Gruyter Open, vol. 19(3), pages 133-145, September.
    11. Samia BENALLAH & Carole BONNET & Claire El MOUDDEN & Antoine MATH, 2012. "Comment Mesurer La "Générosité" Des Systèmes De Retraite ? Une Application Aux Pays De La Méditerranée," Region et Developpement, Region et Developpement, LEAD, Universite du Sud - Toulon Var, vol. 35, pages 215-234.
    12. Peter Huber & Klaus Nowotny & Julia Bock-Schappelwein, 2010. "Qualification Structure, Over- and Underqualification of the Foreign Born in Austria and the EU," FIW Research Reports series II-008, FIW.

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