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A new kid in town? Active inclusion in European minimum income schemes


  • Sarah Marchal
  • Natascha Van Mechelen


This paper assesses the current variation in activation strategies directed towards able-bodied persons of working age who rely on a minimum income guarantee in 20 EU Member states. First, we argue that the Active Inclusion notion developed by the European Commission in its 2008 Recommendation on the active inclusion of persons on a large distance of the labour market provides a useful device to categorize current activation strategies towards minimum income protection (MIP) recipients. Next we use this active inclusion concept in a fuzzy set ideal type analysis of purpose-collected institutional data to investigate to what extent current activation strategies reflect the Commission’s concept of active inclusion. We find that there are few countries where the activation discourse has remained a dead letter. Most countries have implemented policy measures that aim to discourage benefit dependency among MIP recipients. Nevertheless, behind the realities of activation strategies towards minimum income recipients seldom lies the notion of active inclusion as defined by the European Commission. Particularly, many countries adopt predominantly negative incentives to increase labour market participation rates, rather than enabling measures. The majority of countries relies heavily on financial and non-financial incentives such as strong reasonable job definitions or severe sanctions for non-compliance with job availability requirements to encourage employment.

Suggested Citation

  • Sarah Marchal & Natascha Van Mechelen, 2014. "A new kid in town? Active inclusion in European minimum income schemes," ImPRovE Working Papers 14/07, Herman Deleeck Centre for Social Policy, University of Antwerp.
  • Handle: RePEc:hdl:improv:1407

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Sarah Marchal & Mechelen, N. van, 2013. "GINI DP 87: Activation strategies within European minimum income schemes," GINI Discussion Papers 87, AIAS, Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies.
    2. Hedva Sarfati, 2013. "Coping with the unemployment crisis in Europe," International Labour Review, International Labour Organization, vol. 152(1), pages 145-156, March.
    3. Ragin, Charles C., 2000. "Fuzzy-Set Social Science," University of Chicago Press Economics Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226702773, July.
    4. Danielle Venn, 2012. "Eligibility Criteria for Unemployment Benefits: Quantitative Indicators for OECD and EU Countries," OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers 131, OECD Publishing.
    5. Natascha Van Mechelen & Sarah Marchal & Tim Goedemé & Ive Marx & Bea Cantillon, 2011. "The CSB-Minimum Income Protection Indicators dataset (CSB-MIPI)," Working Papers 1105, Herman Deleeck Centre for Social Policy, University of Antwerp.
    6. repec:ucp:bkecon:9780226702766 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Cited by:

    1. Sarah Marchal & Ive Marx & Natascha Van Mechelen, 2016. "Minimum income protection in the austerity tide," IZA Journal of European Labor Studies, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 5(1), pages 1-20, December.
    2. Marjolijn De Wilde & Peter Goos, 2017. "The Implementation of Social Policy: A Factorial Survey Approach," Working Papers 1706, Herman Deleeck Centre for Social Policy, University of Antwerp.

    More about this item


    activation strategy; fsITA; active inclusion; minimum income schemes; EU social policy;

    JEL classification:

    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
    • J60 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - General
    • J64 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search

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