IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

GINI DP 49: The Fiscalization of Child Benefits in OECD Countries


  • Ferrarini, T. (Tommy)
  • Nelson, K. (Kenneth)
  • Höög, H. (Helena)


Welfare states have been subject to a subtle and a sometimes unrecognized transformation: the fiscalization of social benefits. This change of national policy is notable in the area of family policy, where various forms of child tax benefits have been introduced. The composition and level of child benefits varies therefore not only across countries, but also over historical time (Kamerman and Kahn, 1981; MacNicol, 1992; Wennemo, 1994; Gauthier, 1996). In the immediate Post-War period many countries either complemented or replaced various types of income-tested child benefits with universal ones, introducing a shift in the distributive profile of the system. However, far from all welfare states relied only on the principle of universalism in the design of child benefits. Child tax benefits and fiscal policy has often been used as an alternative or complement to social policy legislation. During the era of welfare state stagnation and decline since the mid-1970s some countries have relocated parts of the child benefit package from social policy to the income tax system. During this process of fiscalization, elements of income-testing have once again been introduced to child benefits, thus, adding stronger elements of vertical redistribution between socio-economic groups. The change of scenery involves not only a shift in the relative emphasis of social and fiscal policies in the redistributive budgets of the European countries, but also a greater degree of selectivity and low-income targeting is introduced to the provision of child benefits. ...

Suggested Citation

  • Ferrarini, T. (Tommy) & Nelson, K. (Kenneth) & Höög, H. (Helena), 2012. "GINI DP 49: The Fiscalization of Child Benefits in OECD Countries," GINI Discussion Papers 49, AIAS, Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies.
  • Handle: RePEc:aia:ginidp:49

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. O'Donoghue, Cathal & Sutherland, Holly, 1999. "Accounting for the Family in European Income Tax Systems," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 23(5), pages 565-598, September.
    2. Immervoll, Herwig & Pearson, Mark, 2009. "A Good Time for Making Work Pay? Taking Stock of In-Work Benefits and Related Measures across the OECD," IZA Policy Papers 3, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Lerman, Robert I & Townsend, Alair A, 1974. "Conflicting Objectives in Income Maintenance Programs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 64(2), pages 205-211, May.
    4. Lane Kenworthy, 1998. "Do Social-Welfare Policies Reduce Poverty? A Cross-National Assessment," LIS Working papers 188, LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    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:aia:ginidp:49. 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: (Wiemer Salverda). 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.