‘Missing links’ between employment and poverty trends in EU

Researchers in Antwerp have examined the ‘missing links’ between employment policy and inclusion policy in the European Union. They point to the continuing need for a complementary approach to social transfers and labour market inclusion.

Although overall at-risk-of-poverty rates in the EU showed disappointingly little improvement during the economic upswing (2004–2008), this coincided with a convergence between national rates among people aged between 20 and 59. The researchers suggest four factors were at work:

  • An overall poverty standstill in some countries with both relatively low and relatively high poverty rates.
  • A ‘clearly inegalitarian’ trajectory in some countries with historically low poverty rates, such as Sweden and Finland.
  • A successful effort to reduce poverty in the Anglo-Saxon member states where poverty rates were higher, albeit with a different policy emphasis in the UK (successful activation) and Ireland (much enhanced social protection generosity).
  • The strong economic and employment growth, and an intergenerational shift in poverty risks, in the new member states.

Changes in the share of jobless households did not explain very much of the diversity in the changes in national at-risk-of-poverty rates during the economic upswing. In other words, disappointing poverty trends were not the result of ongoing ‘polarisation’ of jobs between households. But, the researchers conclude, that does not diminish the importance for policy makers of the problem of high numbers of jobless households, or the multi-dimensional Europe 2020 target on reducing the number of people living in them.

Source: Vincent Corluy and Frank Vandenbroucke, Individual Employment, Household Employment and Risk of Poverty in the EU: A Decomposition Analysis, Working Paper 12/06, Centre for Social Policy, Antwerp University

Link: Paper