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The end of cheap talk about poverty reduction: the cost of closing the poverty gap while maintaining work incentives

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Listed:
  • Diego Collado
  • Bea Cantillon
  • Karel Van den Bosch
  • Tim Goedemé
  • Dieter Vandelannoote

Abstract

How can poverty reduction be improved and at what cost? Available evidence suggests that social investment strategies and employment policies are important but not sufficient. In order to reduce the number of people below the relative at-risk-of-poverty threshold of the EU, countries must develop not only effective employment policies but also ensure adequate social protection. This implies increasing social transfers for working and non-working households, while protecting work incentives. In this paper we show that this is not a cheap option. We calculate the hypothetical cost of closing the poverty gap while maintaining the existing average labour market participation incentives at the bottom of the income distribution in three of the most developed welfares states of the EU, namely Belgium, Denmark and the United Kingdom. Results show that this would require around two times the budget needed to just lift all disposable household incomes to the poverty threshold. The cost would obviously be lower in countries with smaller poverty gaps and with weaker participation incentives. The results suggest that anti-poverty strategies also have to look at the drivers of rising income inequalities, at the most appropriate magnitude of work incentives and at downward pressures on low wages.

Suggested Citation

  • Diego Collado & Bea Cantillon & Karel Van den Bosch & Tim Goedemé & Dieter Vandelannoote, 2016. "The end of cheap talk about poverty reduction: the cost of closing the poverty gap while maintaining work incentives," ImPRovE Working Papers 16/08, Herman Deleeck Centre for Social Policy, University of Antwerp.
  • Handle: RePEc:hdl:improv:1608
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Chrysa Leventi & Holly Sutherland & Iva Valentinova Tasseva, 2016. "Improving poverty reduction in Europe: what works (best) where?," ImPRovE Working Papers 16/16, Herman Deleeck Centre for Social Policy, University of Antwerp.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    poverty gap; tax-benefit system; minimum income; in-work benefit; work incentives; redistribution;

    JEL classification:

    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • H24 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies
    • H53 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Welfare Programs
    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs

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