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A Benefit Recipiency Approach to Analysing Differences and Similarities in European Welfare Provision

Adeline Otto ()
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Adeline Otto: KU Leuven

Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, 2018, vol. 137, issue 2, 765-788

Abstract: Abstract In comparative welfare state research, the question of how to measure and understand cross-country differences and similarities in extents of public welfare provision has led to a major discussion about the indicators that could be used for this purpose. Much scholarly attention approaching this so-called ‘dependent variable problem’ concentrates on social expenditure or on social rights data as indicators of ‘welfare stateness’ or ‘welfare generosity’. However, recently, micro-level data on benefit receipt as another promising but hitherto underused indicator was brought into this discussion. The article at hand extends existing knowledge about the conceptual, methodological and empirical potentials and challenges of this alternative indicator compared to the two prevailing indicators. For the empirical analysis, it uses cash benefit recipiency data from the EU-SILC to investigate differences and similarities in extents of public welfare provision between 29 European countries for the period 2003–2012. The study reveals parallels to findings from research in which indicators of social expenditure and social rights are applied, but it also adds new insights beyond their cost and paper reality. This is mainly the case where priority is given to household-related assistance benefits rather than individual insurance benefits. The main conclusion of the paper is that the benefit recipiency indicator—despite not being flawless and requiring further research—complements existing knowledge on differences and similarities in welfare provision by European welfare states.

Keywords: Dependent variable problem; Welfare state comparison; Welfare state indicators; Benefit recipiency data (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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