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The scars of scarcity in the short run: an empirical investigation across Europe

Massimo Baldini (), Giovanni Gallo () and Costanza Torricelli ()

Economia Politica: Journal of Analytical and Institutional Economics, 2020, vol. 37, issue 3, No 11, 1033-1069

Abstract: Abstract This paper tests whether a temporary experience of income scarcity in the recent past affects the current perception of financial fragility, and whether this effect varies according to the welfare system of the country of residence. Using EU-SILC (European Union Statistics on Income and Living Condition) longitudinal data in 2010–2013 period, two main results emerge. First, individuals who transited out of a short spell of scarcity tend to record higher financial fragility (as measured by the indicator “ability to make ends meet”) than those who never experienced it, even after controlling for the current level of household income. When a more objective measure of financial fragility is taken (financial burden of total housing costs), the effect is weaker and disappears once current income is accounted for. Second, the scarcity effect on perceived financial fragility differs according to the welfare system, whereby more generous welfare states (i.e. with greater incidence of social expenditure on GDP) appear to reduce the persistence of the effects of past income shocks on current well-being, while the level of targeting is not relevant. These results, which are robust to various robustness checks, support the idea that individual well-being is a multidimensional phenomenon not limited to more objective components such as income or wealth. Our results are in favour of a welfare system which ensures a more generous provision of services and does not focus only on the poorest section of a society.

Keywords: Income scarcity; Financial fragility; Perception; Coarsened exact matching (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C25 D60 I32 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1007/s40888-020-00187-4

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