Skip to main content

A social welfare approach for measuring welfare protection

Abstract

The measurement of the level of protection provided by minimum income programs has often focused on one of two dimensions: adequacy or coverage. The rankings of regions or countries in terms of the protection provided can be very different depending on the chosen outcome. In this paper, we adopt a social welfare approach for measuring welfare protection looking at the effects of adequacy and coverage on economic welfare. Based on standard assumptions of social welfare functions, we propose a parameterized family of indices that satisfy desirable properties. Our empirical illustration using Spanish data confirms that focusing only on standard measures of adequacy may introduce an important bias, making it difficult to properly identify real differences in terms of social welfare among programs.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  1. Ayala, L., Triguero, A.: Economic downturns, endogenous government policy and welfare caseloads, Hacienda Publica Esp (forthcoming, 2017)

  2. Bargain, O., Immervoll, H., Viitamäki, H.: No claim, no pain. Measuring the non-take-up of social assistance using register data. J. Econ. Inequal. 10, 375–395 (2012)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Cowell, F.: Measuring Inequality. Prentice Hall, London (1995)

    Google Scholar 

  4. Currie, J.: The take-up of social benefits. In: Auerbach, A., Card, D, Quigley, J (eds.) Poverty, the Distribution of Income, and Public Policy. Russell Sage, New York (2006)

  5. Duclos, J.Y.: Modelling the take-up of state support. J. Public Econ. 58, 391–415 (1996)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Figari, F., Matsaganis, M., Sutherland, H.: Are European social safety nets tight enough? Coverage and adequacy of minimum income schemes in 14 EU countries. Int. J. Soc. Welf. 22, 3–14 (2013)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Immervoll, H.: Minimum-Income benefits in OECD countries: policy design, effectiveness and challenges. OECD social, employment and migration Working Papers No. 100 (2010)

  8. Lambert, P.: The Distribution and Redistribution of Income. A Mathematical Analysis. Manchester University Press, Manchester (1993)

    Google Scholar 

  9. Marchal, S., Marx, I., Van Mechelen, N.: The great wake-up call? Social citizenship and minimum income provisions in Europe in times of crisis. J. Soc. Policy 43, 247–267 (2014)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Moffitt, R.: An economic model of welfare stigma. Am. Econ. Rev. 73, 1023–1035 (1983)

    Google Scholar 

  11. Ravallion, M.: Geographic inequity in a decentralized anti-poverty program: a case study of China. Policy Research Working Paper Series 4303. The World Bank (2007)

  12. Van Mechelen, N., Marchal, S.: Struggle for life: social assistance benefits, 1992–2009. In: Marx, I., Nelson, K. (eds.) Minimum Income Protection in Flux. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke (2013)

  13. Vandenbroucke, F., Cantillon, B., Van Mechelen, N., Goedemé, T., Van Lancker, A.: The EU and minimum income protection: clarifying the policy conundrum. In: Marx, I., Nelson, K (eds.) Minimum Income Protection in Flux. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke (2013)

  14. Whelan, S.: The take-up of means-tested income support. Empir. Econ. 39, 847–875 (2010)

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

Luis Ayala acknowledges financial support from the Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad (ECO2013-46516-C4-3-R and ECO2016-76506-C4-3-R) and Comunidad de Madrid (S2015/ HUM3416). Elena Bárcena-Martín acknowledges financial support from the Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad (ECO2015-63734-P), Comunidad de Madrid (S2015/HUM3416) and Universidad de Málaga. We thank Olga Alonso, Luis Imedio, Coral del Río, Jacques Silber and many seminar participants in Atlanta, Barcelona, Bilbao, Cáceres, Madrid, Ourense, Reus, Sevilla, and York for their helpful discussions and comments.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Elena Bárcena-Martín.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Ayala, L., Bárcena-Martín, E. A social welfare approach for measuring welfare protection. J Econ Inequal 16, 41–59 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10888-017-9361-y

Download citation

Keywords

  • Adequacy
  • Coverage
  • Minimum income
  • Social welfare
  • Welfare protection