IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

The distributional impact of in-kind public benefits in European countries


  • Alari Paulus

    (Research fellow, Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER), University of Essex, UK)

  • Holly Sutherland
  • Panos Tsakloglou

    (Professor, Department of International and European Economic Studies, Athens University of Economics and Business, Greece and Research Fellow of IZA, Bonn, Germany)


International comparisons of inequality based on measures of disposable income may not be valid if the size and incidence of publicly provided in-kind benefits differ across the countries considered. The benefits that are financed by taxation in one country may need to be purchased out of disposable income in another. We estimate the size and incidence of in-kind or “noncash” benefits from public housing subsidies, education, and health care for five European countries using comparable methods and data. Inequality in the augmented income measure is dramatically lower than in disposable income, with the effects of the three components varying in importance across countries. Adapting equivalence scales to take proper account of differences in needs for health care and education across population members reduces the scale of the effect, but does not eliminate it. © 2010 by the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management.

Suggested Citation

  • Alari Paulus & Holly Sutherland & Panos Tsakloglou, 2010. "The distributional impact of in-kind public benefits in European countries," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 29(2), pages 243-266.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:jpamgt:v:29:y:2010:i:2:p:243-266 DOI: 10.1002/pam.20490

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: Link to full text; subscription required
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Harry Ter Rele, 2007. "Measuring The Lifetime Redistribution Achieved By Dutch Taxation, Cash Transfer And Non-Cash Benefits Programs," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 53(2), pages 335-362, June.
    2. Jones, Andrew & O'Donnell, Owen, 1995. "Equivalence scales and the costs of disability," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(2), pages 273-289, February.
    3. Tsakloglou, Panos & Antoninis, Manos, 1999. "On the distributional impact of public education: evidence from Greece," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 18(4), pages 439-452, October.
    4. António Afonso & Ludger Schuknecht & Vito Tanzi, 2005. "Public sector efficiency: An international comparison," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 123(3), pages 321-347, June.
    5. Rolf Aaberge & Audun Langørgen, 2006. "Measuring The Benefits From Public Services: The Effects Of Local Government Spending On The Distribution Of Income In Norway," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 52(1), pages 61-83, March.
    6. Pollak, Robert A & Wales, Terence J, 1979. "Welfare Comparisons and Equivalence Scales," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(2), pages 216-221, May.
    7. Jan Klavus, 1999. "Health care and economic well-being: estimating equivalence scales for public health care utilization," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 8(7), pages 613-625.
    8. Giuseppe Carone & Declan Costello & Nuria Diez Guardia & Gilles Mourre & Bartosz Przywara & Aino Salomaki, 2005. "The economic impact of ageing populations in the EU25 Member States," European Economy - Economic Papers 2008 - 2015 236, Directorate General Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN), European Commission.
    9. O'Higgins, Michael & Ruggles, Patricia, 1981. "The Distribution of Public Expenditures and Taxes among Households in the United Kingdom," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 27(3), pages 298-326, September.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wly:jpamgt:v:29:y:2010:i:2:p:243-266. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Wiley-Blackwell Digital Licensing) or (Christopher F. Baum). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.