Welfare state and social Europe

David Bloom, 14 October 2019

Population ageing, driven by declining fertility, increasing longevity, and the progression of large-sized cohorts to older ages, is the dominant global demographic trend of the 21st century. This column introduces a new Vox eBook that examines the myriad challenges and economic uncertainties posed by ageing populations. Overall, the contributions suggest that although the challenges are formidable, they are not insurmountable. There is good reason to reject the view that ‘demography is destiny’.

James Poterba, Lawrence H. Summers, 25 September 2019

Martin Feldstein, who passed away in June 2019, was one of the most important applied economists of the last half-century. This column, by two of his students and close colleagues, celebrates his intellectual legacy, outlining his seminal contributions on a wide range of topics in public economics and beyond, his pioneering use of large data sets, and his influential voice in US public policy over many decades. As president of the National Bureau of Economic Research for nearly 30 years, Feldstein advanced the conduct and dissemination of economic research, and helped to create the modern economics profession.

William H. Dow, Anna Godøy, Chris Lowenstein, Michael Reich, 07 July 2019

Policymakers and researchers have sought to understand the causes of and effective policy responses to recent increases in mortality due to alcohol, drugs, and suicide in the US. This column examines the role of the minimum wage and the earned income tax credit – the two most important policy levers for raising incomes for low-wage workers – as tools to combat these trends. It finds that both policies significantly reduce non-drug suicides among adults without a college degree, and that the effect is stronger among women. The findings point to the role of economic policies as important determinants of health. 

Minouche Shafik, 07 June 2019

This week UN special rapporteur claimed the UK's social safety net has been "replaced with a harsh and uncaring ethos". Dame Minouche Shafik, director of the LSE, talks to Tim Phillips about whether our welfare states can survive in their current form, and what might replace them.

Alberto Alesina, Elie Murard, Hillel Rapoport, 08 April 2019

A large literature shows that generosity, both public and private, is more freely extended within the same group rather than across groups. This column examines how immigration affects natives’ attitudes towards redistribution and the implications for welfare states in Europe. The main finding is that in regions which have received a larger share of immigrants, natives are in general less favourable towards redistribution. Some European countries face the dilemma of natives favouring generous welfare policies for themselves but opposing them for immigrants.

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