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GINI DP 82: The paradox of redistribution revisited: and that it may rest in peace?


  • Ive Marx

    () (Centre for Social Policy, University of Antwerp)

  • Lina Salanauskaite


  • Gerlinde Verbist

    (Centre for Social Policy, University of Antwerp)


There is a long-standing controversy in the academic literature over the question of whether targeting benefits towards the bottom part of the income distribution actually enhances or weakens their redistributive impact. Korpi and Palme have influentially claimed that “the more we target benefits at the poor, the less likely we are to reduce poverty and inequality”. The basic empirical underpinning of this claim is a strong inverse relationship at the country level between social transfer targeting and redistributive impact. This paper shows that this key finding no longer holds as a robust empirical generalisation. The relationship between the extent of targeting and redistributive impact over a broad set of empirical specifications, country selections and data sources has in fact become a very weak one, suggesting that the extent of targeting per se may not matter anymore as much as we have assumed since Korpi and Palme.

Suggested Citation

  • Ive Marx & Lina Salanauskaite & Gerlinde Verbist, 2013. "GINI DP 82: The paradox of redistribution revisited: and that it may rest in peace?," GINI Discussion Papers 82, AIAS, Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies.
  • Handle: RePEc:aia:ginidp:82

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Eichhorst, Werner & Konle-Seidl, Regina, 2008. "Contingent Convergence: A Comparative Analysis of Activation Policies," IZA Discussion Papers 3905, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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    7. David Brady & Rebekah Burroway, 2012. "Targeting, Universalism, and Single-Mother Poverty: A Multilevel Analysis Across 18 Affluent Democracies," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 49(2), pages 719-746, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Carlos Farinha Rodrigues & Isabel Andrade, 2014. "Robin Hood versus Piggy Bank: Income Redistribution in Portugal 2006-2010," Panoeconomicus, Savez ekonomista Vojvodine, Novi Sad, Serbia, vol. 61(5), pages 617-630, October.
    2. De Donder, Philippe & Peluso, Eugenio, 2014. "Politically Sustainable Probabilistic Minority Targeting," TSE Working Papers 14-509, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
    3. Abigail McKnight, 2015. "A fresh look at an old question: is pro-poor targeting of cash transfers more effective than universal systems at reducing inequality and poverty?," ImPRovE Working Papers 15/14, Herman Deleeck Centre for Social Policy, University of Antwerp.
    4. Katherine Baird, 2015. "Who Did Safety Nets Catch During the Great Recession and How? A Comparison of Eleven OECD Countries," LIS Working papers 620, LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg.
    5. Chrysa Leventi & Olga Rastrigina & Holly Sutherland, 2016. "The importance of income-tested benefits in good times and bad: lessons from EU countries," ImPRovE Working Papers 16/01, Herman Deleeck Centre for Social Policy, University of Antwerp.
    6. Bodenstein, Thilo & Kemmerling, Achim, 2015. "A Paradox of Redistribution in International Aid? The Determinants of Poverty-Oriented Development Assistance," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 76(C), pages 359-369.
    7. András Gábos & Réka Branyiczki & Barbara Lange & György Tóth, 2015. "Employment and poverty dynamics in the EU countries before, during and after the crisis," ImPRovE Working Papers 15/06, Herman Deleeck Centre for Social Policy, University of Antwerp.

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