Chapter

Targeting welfare: on the functions and dysfunctions of means testing in social policy

Wim van Oorschot

in World poverty

Published by Policy Press

Published in print September 2002 | ISBN: 9781861343956
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447304340 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1332/policypress/9781861343956.003.0008
Targeting welfare: on the functions and dysfunctions of means testing in social policy

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This chapter describes the shift towards the selective targeting of welfare in both Western and Eastern European countries in recent years. It discusses the pros and cons of means testing in relation to the broad aims of social policy: to do away with poverty, social injustice, and dependency, and to integrate all groups and classes into society. The chapter shows that means testing demotivates poor people from trying to be better off, because of the effects of the poverty trap; the high rates of marginal tax to which they are exposed. Means testing also provides major obstacles to social exchange and participation and creates ineffective delivery of social rights, since a substantial non-take-up of benefits is inherent in the system.

Keywords: targeting of welfare; Europe; means testing; social policy; social injustice; poverty trap

Chapter.  9998 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social Stratification, Inequality, and Mobility

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