Welfare state ‘needed to tackle European poverty’

The best-performing European countries in terms of social and economic outcomes have one thing in common – a large and active welfare state. That's the emerging policy conclusion of a major EU-funded research project on poverty and inequality.

Key points

  • Although giving more people access to work is important for a wide range of reasons, it does not automatically translate into less poverty and inequality.
  • Adequate minimum income protection for workers and non-workers alike is key. But adequate poverty relief requires more than minimally adequate social safety nets: it requires substantial social spending channelled through a range of programmes.
  • Programmes exclusively or very strongly targeted at those in poverty have historically tended to be less effective in reducing poverty than expected. 'Targeting within universalism' broadly appears to be the model to aim for.
  • The best-performing EU countries in terms of economic, employment, social cohesion and equality outcomes have a large welfare state that tries to do several things at the same time – investing in people, stimulating and supporting them to be active, and also adequately protecting them and their children when everything else fails.

Source: Ive Marx and Tim Van Rie, Policy Analysis, Intermediate Work Package 6 Report, GINI Project (European Commission)
Link: Report

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