Welfare state and social Europe

David Bloom, Paige Kirby, JP Sevilla, Andrew Stawasz, 03 December 2018

Worldwide ageing trends are steering global demographics into uncharted territory, transforming populations and societies around the globe. Japan is leading the way in this growth wave as the world’s oldest population and is now grappling with the substantial socioeconomic burdens an ageing population places on society. This column discusses the coming challenges associated with population ageing alongside plausible solutions. While there is no magic bullet for these challenges, there is scope to devise a multi-pronged solutions portfolio of complementary initiatives that includes a number of measures to promote and protect elderly health.  

Amanda Agan, Michael Makowsky, 10 November 2018

Individuals with a criminal record face difficulties in the labour market that can compel them to reoffend. This column reveals how increases in the minimum wage in the US reduce the likelihood of recently released felons being reincarcerated, while an income-related tax subsidy has a similar effect for women, but not men. The results suggest significant welfare benefits from policiesthat help raise wages above the potential income from criminal activity.

Christopher Busch, David Domeij, Fatih Guvenen, Rocío Madera, 17 October 2018

Workers experience income volatility over their lifetime due to changes in both individual and macroeconomic conditions. Using panel data from the US, Germany, and Sweden, this column analyses how the probability of income losses and gains changes systematically over the business cycle. Downside risk increases in recessions, while upside chance is reduced. However, tax and transfer programmes blunt some of the largest declines in incomes in recessions.

Joan Costa-i-Font, 04 October 2018

Many European countries are revisiting how best to finance long-term care, balancing financial sustainability and the economic welfare of households. Using examples of Spain and Scotland, this paper demonstrates that an expansion of public funding for long-term care has an effect on caregiving choices, household finances, and hospital care. Unconditional or cash subsidies may entail a ‘caregiving moral hazard’, but both cash and care subsidies can bring savings to the health system by reducing the frequency and intensity of hospitalisation. 

Hope Corman, Dhaval Dave, Nancy Reichman, 08 September 2018

The 1996 welfare reform in the US was a major policy shift that sought to reduce dependence of single parents on government benefits by promoting work, encouraging marriage, and reducing non-marital childbearing. This column describes how the reform led to a decline in illicit drug use among women at risk of relying on welfare, a decrease in female arrests for property crime, and smaller declines in voting for women exposed to the reform compared to several similar comparison groups. The findings offer evidence that limiting cash assistance and encouraging work can lead to reductions in socially undesirable behaviours and increases in prosocial community behaviours.

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