How reliable are social safety nets?
Value and accessibility in situations of acute economic need
Social protection systems use a range of entitlement criteria. First-tier support
typically requires contributions or past employment in many countries, while safety
net benefits are granted on the basis of need. In a context of volatile and uncertain
labour markets, careful and continuous monitoring of the effectiveness of income support
is a key input into an evidence-based policy process. This paper proposes a novel
empirical method for monitoring the accessibility and levels of safety net benefits.
It focusses on minimum-income benefits (MIB) and other non-contributory transfers
and relies on data on the amounts of cash support that individuals in need receive
in practice. Results show that accessibility and benefit levels differ enormously
across countries – for instance, in 2015/16, more than four out of five low-income
workless one-person households received MIB in Australia, France and the United Kingdom,
compared to only one in five in Greece, Italy and Korea, three countries that have
since sought to strengthen aspects of safety-net provisions.
Published on December 22, 2020