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Combating In-Work Poverty in Continental Europe: An Investigation Using the Belgian Case

Author

Listed:
  • Marx, Ive

    () (University of Antwerp)

  • Vanhille, Josefine

    () (University of Antwerp)

  • Verbist, Gerlinde

    () (University of Antwerp)

Abstract

Recent studies find in-work poverty to be a pan-European phenomenon. Yet in-work poverty has come to the fore as a policy issue only recently in most continental European countries. Policies implemented in the United States and the United Kingdom, most notably in-work benefit schemes, are much discussed. This article argues that if it comes to preventing and alleviating poverty among workers, both the policy options and constraints facing Continental European policymakers are fundamentally different from those facing Anglo-Saxon policymakers. Consequently, policies that work in one setting cannot be simply emulated elsewhere. We present micro-simulation derived results for Belgium to illustrate some of these points. Policy options discussed and simulated include: higher minimum wages, reductions in employee social security contributions, tax relief for low-paid workers, and the implementation of a stylised version of the British Working Tax Credit. The latter measure has the strongest impact on in-work poverty but in settings where wages are compressed, as in Belgium, a severe trade-off between coverage and budgetary cost presents itself. The article concludes that looking beyond targeted measures to universal benefits and support for employment of carers may be important components of an overall policy package to tackle in-work poverty.

Suggested Citation

  • Marx, Ive & Vanhille, Josefine & Verbist, Gerlinde, 2011. "Combating In-Work Poverty in Continental Europe: An Investigation Using the Belgian Case," IZA Discussion Papers 6067, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6067
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Juan J. Dolado & Florentino Felgueroso & Juan F. Jimeno, 2000. "The Role of the Minimum Wage in the Welfare State: An Appraisal," Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics (SJES), Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics (SSES), vol. 136(III), pages 223-245, September.
    2. Miles Corak & Christine Lietz & Holly Sutherland, 2005. "The Impact of Tax and Transfer Systems on Children in the European Union," Papers inwopa05/30, Innocenti Working Papers.
    3. Brewer, Mike & Duncan, Alan & Shephard, Andrew & Suarez, Maria Jose, 2006. "Did working families' tax credit work? The impact of in-work support on labour supply in Great Britain," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(6), pages 699-720, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Alessio Brown & Johannes Koettl, 2015. "Active labor market programs - employment gain or fiscal drain?," IZA Journal of Labor Economics, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 4(1), pages 1-36, December.
    2. Marx, Ive & Nolan, Brian & Olivera, Javier, 2014. "The Welfare State and Anti-Poverty Policy in Rich Countries," IZA Discussion Papers 8154, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    negative income taxes; in-work poverty; low pay; in-work benefits;

    JEL classification:

    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty
    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure
    • R28 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Government Policy
    • J68 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Public Policy

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