Chapter

Welfare state institutions, unemployment and poverty: comparative analysis of unemployment benefits and labour market participation in 15 European Union countries

M. Azhar Hussain, Olli Kangas and Jon Kvist

in Changing Social Equality

Published by Policy Press

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9781847426604
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447305583 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1332/policypress/9781847426604.003.0006
Welfare state institutions, unemployment and poverty: comparative analysis of unemployment benefits and labour market participation in 15 European Union countries

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The chapter examines the interaction between the labour market, employment and social security in different welfare state regimes. It looks at the extent to which we can find regime-based differences in labour markets, in the generosity of unemployment insurance or in the economic consequences of being employed, becoming unemployed for a shorter or longer period and becoming employed again. Longitudinal data are derived from the ECHP and EU/SILC for the mid-1990s to the late 2000s. Results indicate that welfare regimes may lose their distinctiveness in two ways: first, the countries in a regime abandon the ideal model; second, the countries maintain the model but the other countries catch up eroding the differences. Three dimensions characteristic of the Nordic model were inspected: Firstly a high level of employment displayed the second type of convergence. While the Nordic countries are maintaining their high employment levels, other countries are catching up. Secondly, high income protection where there is a trend of growing similarity — replacements have deteriorated in the Nordic countries (and in Central Europe) while they have improved in Liberal and in the Southern Europe. Finally, a low incidence of poverty in labour market transitions does not show changes in regime-based differences. Although the Nordic poverty rates are increasing, so are those in the other regimes. Despite some signs of a piecemeal convergence, a high degree of welfare state ‘regime integrity’ remains.

Keywords: labour market dynamics; poverty dynamics; unemployment; unemployment insurance; welfare regime

Chapter.  9324 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social Stratification, Inequality, and Mobility

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