The redistributive impact of public and private social expenditure
Most analyses of social protection are focussed on public arrangements. However, social effort is not restricted to the public domain; all kinds of private arrangements can be substitutes to public programs. In fact, in several countries there has been a shift from public towards private social arrangements. OECD-data indicate that accounting for private social benefits has an equalising effect on levels of social effort across a number of countries. This suggests that public and private social expenditures are complementary to some extent. But their distributional effects differ. In all OECD countries, the social protection system causes a more equal distribution of incomes. Indeed, using cross-country data, we find a negative relationship between public social expenditures and income inequality and a positive relationship between public social expenditure and income redistribution. But we do not find a significant positive relationship between private social expenditures and income inequality or income redistribution. Consequently, changes in the public/private-mix in the provision of social protection may affect the redistributive impact of the welfare state.
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