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Patterns of welfare state indicators in the EU: Is there convergence?

  • Caminada, Koen
  • Goudswaard, Kees
  • Van Vliet, Olaf

Convergence of social protection objectives and policies in member states is an explicit objective of the EU. Earlier research has shown that there has indeed been a tendency of convergence of social protection levels over the last decades. However, comparative studies of welfare states frequently use indicators which may not be representative as measures of the level or generosity of benefits in different countries. In this paper we have done several σ- and β-convergence tests with the most recent data, using a variety of indicators of social protection: social expenditures, both at the macro and at the program level, replacement rates of unemployment benefits and social assistance benefits and poverty indicators. Together, these indicators provide a more broad picture of the evolution of social protection. Our results are less clear cut than earlier findings. We still find a quite strong convergence of social expenditure in EU-countries over a longer period. However, this trend seems to have stagnated in recent years. The evidence is mixed for the other indicators. Replacement rates of unemployment benefits clearly converged to a higher level, but social assistance benefits and poverty rates do not show a trend of convergence.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 20177.

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Date of creation: 2008
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:20177
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  1. Koen Caminada & Kees Goudswaard, 2001. "International Trends in Income Inequality and Social Policy," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 8(4), pages 395-415, August.
  2. Scharpf, Fritz W., 2002. "The European Social Model: Coping with the challenges of diversity," MPIfG Working Paper 02/8, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.
  3. Hans-Werner Sinn, 2002. "The New Systems Competition," NBER Working Papers 8747, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Dorte Sindbjerg Martinsen, 2005. "The Europeanization of Welfare - The Domestic Impact of Intra-European Social Security," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 43(5), pages 1027-1054, December.
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  8. Sala-i-Martin, Xavier, 1994. "Regional Cohesion: Evidence and Theories of Regional Growth and Convergence," CEPR Discussion Papers 1075, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  9. Castles, Francis G., 2004. "The Future of the Welfare State: Crisis Myths and Crisis Realities," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199273928, March.
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  14. Peter Whiteford, 1995. "The Use of Replacement Rates in International Comparisons of Benefit Systems," Discussion Papers 0054, University of New South Wales, Social Policy Research Centre.
  15. Koen Caminada & Kees Goudswaard, 2005. "Are Public and Private Social Expenditures Complementary?," International Advances in Economic Research, International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 11(2), pages 175-189, May.
  16. Quah, Danny T., 1996. "Empirics for economic growth and convergence," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(6), pages 1353-1375, June.
  17. Van Vliet, Olaf & Kaeding, Michael, 2007. "Globalisation, European Integration and Social Protection – Patterns of Change or Continuity?," MPRA Paper 20808, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  18. Quah, Danny T., 1996. "Regional convergence clusters across Europe," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(3-5), pages 951-958, April.
  19. Willem Adema, 2001. "Net Social Expenditure: 2nd Edition," OECD Labour Market and Social Policy Occasional Papers 52, OECD Publishing.
  20. Costas Megir & Danny Quah, 1996. "Regional Convergence Clusters Across Europe," CEP Discussion Papers dp0274, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  21. Cornelisse, Peter & Goudswaard, Kees, 2001. "On the convergence of social protection systems in the European Union," MPRA Paper 21297, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  22. Wildasin, David E, 1991. "Income Redistribution in a Common Labor Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(4), pages 757-74, September.
  23. Tony Atkinson, 2002. "Social Inclusion and the European Union," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 40(4), pages 625-643, November.
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