Social security contributions, earmarked taxes and wage-earner savings in the financing of social protection: a comparison of the British and French systems

  • Bernard Friot

Abstract

Traditional comparisons between the French and British social protection systems have typically been based on an erroneous perspective where the United Kingdom is concerned. Since the typologies proposed focus solely on the annual flow of resources, from the point of view of their financing and use, they fail to take into account what lies at the heart of the British system, that is the stock of capital accumulated through the advance funding of employer-provided schemes, such as pension funds. This error characterises not only the most popular comparison (Bismarck vs. Beveridge), but also more elaborate typologies such as those developed by Flora (productivist-bureaucratic vs. universal redistributive), or by Esping-Anderson (conservative-corporatist vs. liberal); the error is also overlooked in the excellent critical review of these typologies by Théret (1996). This erroneous perspective allows authors such as Flora to focus on National Insurance, which is merely one component of social protection in the UK (and a secondary one at that), and then to describe the British system as ‘minimum universalistic’. It also allows a false symmetry to be drawn between the British and French systems, in which the French system is labelled ‘occupational’ as opposed to ‘universal’, a definition that ignores the national, non-branch-specific nature of the French schemes, which are financed through mechanisms for pooling risk among employers. This is why we have preferred to set aside the traditional typologies here and to describe the British system as financial-redistributive or, more simply, financial, and the French system as wage-based.

Keywords

Europe Income Arena Conglomerate 

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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2000

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  • Bernard Friot

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