Recent trends in minimum income protection for Europe's elderly
Faculty of Social Sciences. Sociology
Amsterdam :AIASS, 2012
GINI discussion paper ; 27
University of Antwerp
In Europe, the elderly stand out for their heavy reliance on welfare state arrangements for securing their living standard. In spite of relatively high elderly at-risk-of-poverty rates in many EU member states, the past two decades have witnessed a tendency to re-strengthen the link between past contributions and pension benefi ts, and to rely more strongly on private pensions. At the same time, public pension replacement rates are projected to decrease in a large number of European countries. In this context, minimum income protection for Europes elderly is likely to become even more important for alleviating elderly poverty than is the case today. Yet, minimum income protection schemes targeted at the elderly have remained largely undocumented in the international literature. Therefore, this chapter reviews existing minimum income policies for the elderly in Europe and develops a typology based on entitlement and eligibility criteria. Building on data from a project involving national experts from 25 EU member states, it is shown that in the 2000s welfare erosion of elderly persons non-contributory minimum income guarantees has been limited. Moreover, a substantial number of countries has pursued a deliberate policy of increases in minimum income benefi ts for the elderly. Nonetheless, only in a few countries benefi ts are adequate for lifting elderly persons above the poverty line. At the same time, differences between EU member states in terms of mode of access and benefi t levels remain large.