The growth of income and wealth inequality has led to greater political influence for the 1 percent. But what are the social policy outcomes of this increasing inequality? In new research, Thomas Hayes and Lyle Scruggs examine support for social safety nets among different income groups as well as the link between state welfare generosity and income inequality. They argue that those with greater wealth are more likely to dislike generous state welfare policies; the greater political influence that these groups now wield may be linked to sharper reductions in state welfare policies.
The so called ‘Troika’ of the European Commission, European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund was frequently criticised during the Eurozone crisis on the basis that it had imposed austerity on countries requiring a bailout. But how accurate was this picture in reality? Drawing on new research in Ireland, Rod Hick writes that the nature of Troika supervision was quite different from the popular image: while the deficit reduction targets put Ireland in a fiscal straight-jacket, they allowed room for manoeuvre in terms of the precise tax rises and spending cuts that would be imposed to reduce the deficit.
Have the negative economic consequences brought about by the financial crisis made European welfare states unaffordable? Iain Begg writes that while there is some validity to criticisms of welfare spending, the welfare state performs a number of core functions that ensure it will continue to be around for the foreseeable future. He also notes that European welfare states have shown a greater capacity for change than is often recognised, with the shift toward a system that gives priority to social investment making a real difference in several countries.
Pension reforms since the financial crisis could have a serious impact on the future retirement incomes of young Europeans
What effect has the financial crisis had on pension systems in EU countries? Aaron G. Grech notes that prior to the crisis there was a significant divergence in pensions across the EU, with some states having relatively generous systems in comparison to others. He writes that following the crisis, southern European states have had to substantially cut back on pensions, while other states in northern Europe have remained relatively unscathed. He argues that although it should still be possible for these systems to keep pensioners out of poverty, European policymakers will need to ensure a properly functioning labour market that provides opportunities for young Europeans.
Has the financial crisis fundamentally weakened Europe’s welfare states? Luis Morenoassesses the development of welfare states in Europe in the post-war period. He writes that three distinct ‘ages’ of welfare can be identified: a ‘Golden Age’ which ended in the mid-1970s, a ‘Silver Age’ which ran from the 1970s until the financial crisis, and a ‘Bronze Age’ in the period after the crisis. He argues that in each ‘age’ the stability of welfare states has been challenged and action is now required to ensure the welfare states of the future continue to meet their obligations to citizens.
on different levels of inequality and how they are perceived within each country – interestingly people in the US underestimate the degree of inequality (and they are unique in doing so); most countries overestimate by a considerable amount the level of inequality and povery
the graphic is here – LINK – from the FT
On declining support amongst young people for the welfare state, and suggestions on how to reverse that decline:
“new policy should ensure much greater protection, support and opportunities for young people. A good start would be to defend the rights of young people to social security benefits, as well as investing much more in supporting the often difficult and complex transition between full-time education and the labour market.”