April 2023

IZA DP No. 16066: Minimum Income Support Systems as Elements of Crisis Resilience in Europe

This paper studies the role of social policies in different European welfare states regarding minimum income protection and active inclusion. The core focus lies on crisis resilience, i.e. the capacity of social policy arrangements to contain poverty and inequality and avoid exclusion before, during and after periods of economic shocks. To achieve this goal, the papier expands its analytical focus to include other tiers of social protection, in particular upstream systems such as unemployment insurance, job retention and employment protection, as they play an additional and potentially prominent role in providing income and job protection in situations of crisis. A mixed-method approach is used that combines quantitative and qualitative research, such as descriptive and multivariate quantitative analyses, microsimulation methods and in-depth case studies. We find consistent differences in terms of crisis resilience across countries and welfare state types. In general, Nordic and Continental European welfare states with strong upstream systems and minimum income support (MIS) show better outcomes in core socio-economic outcomes such as poverty and exclusion risks. However, labour market integration shows some dualisms in Continental Europe. The study shows that MIS holds particular importance if there are gaps in upstream systems or cases of severe and lasting crises.