Less is more? 20 years of changing minimum income protection for old Europe's elderly
Faculty of Social Sciences. Sociology
Antwerp :University of Antwerp, 2012
CSB working paper / University of Antwerp, Herman Deleeck Centre for Social Policy, ; 12/07
University of Antwerp
Over the past two decades, pension reforms have been at the top of the agenda of social policy makers in Europe. In many countries, these reforms have resulted in less generous public pensions. At the same time, minimum income protection for the elderly has received attention from policy makers, but much less so from social policy researchers. Therefore, in this paper, I explore how benefit levels of non-contributory minimum income schemes for the elderly have evolved between 1990 and 2009 in 13 old EU member states. Building on two new cross-national and cross-temporary comparable datasets on minimum income protection in Europe, it is shown that over the past 20 years the erosion of the principal safety net of last resort for elderly persons has been limited. Moreover, in a substantial number of European countries a deliberate policy of large increases in minimum income benefits has been pursued, leading to a remarkable convergence of relative benefit levels.