Munich Personal RePEc Archive

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

Caminada, Koen and Goudswaard, Kees and Van Vliet, Olaf (2008): Patterns of welfare state indicators in the EU: Is there convergence? Published in: Department of Economics Research Memorandum No. 2008.05 (2008): pp. 1-22.

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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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