EU role in minimum income protection?

Researchers in Antwerp have raised the possibility of European Union involvement in setting minimum income levels – while acknowledging the idea currently seems like a political ‘no-go area’ for some richer member states.

Key points

  • A caring Europe should be about convergence in prosperity between member states, the researchers argue. Enhanced solidarity within member states cannot be decoupled from enhanced solidarity among them.
  • But the main problem is that a harmonised minimum income scheme would require a significantly greater budgetary effort by some poorer member states in eastern and southern Europe.
  • A binding framework on minimum income protection might become realistic – albeit introduced gradually and flexibly – if the EU put positive pressure on poorer and richer member states to improve the overall quality and efficiency of their welfare regimes.

Source: Frank Vandenbroucke, Bea Cantillon, Natascha Van Mechelen, Tim Goedemé and Anne Van Lancker, The EU and Minimum Income Protection: Clarifying the Policy Conundrum, Working Paper 12/05, Centre for Social Policy, Antwerp University

Link: Paper


Tags: report, European Union, minimum incomes




4 June 2012

Incomes and spending – 1977 and 2012 compared

People in general have become much better off in the last 35 years, says a think-tank analysis, with household incomes more than doubling. But although this extra wealth has been shared among all family types, it has been accompanied by a very big increase in inequality.

Researchers at the Institute for Fiscal Studies marked the Diamond Jubilee by looking at changes in incomes and spending since 1977 – the year of the Silver Jubilee.

Key points

  • Up to 1977, income inequality had been on a long-term downward trend, which turned around towards the end of the 1970s.
  • The 1980s saw a historically unprecedented increase in inequality.
  • That increase has not been unwound since, despite the very substantial growth in the benefit and tax credit budget in the 2000s.
  • In 1977, someone 90 per cent of the way up the income distribution had an income 1.7 times as high as someone in the middle, and 3.0 times as high as someone just 10 per cent of the way up it. By 2009/10, they had an income more than twice the median, and more than four times as high as someone at the 10th percentile.
  • The income share of the richest 1 per cent has nearly trebled since 1977. Even after tax, the richest 1 per cent of households took home nearly 9 per cent of all income in 2009/10 – compared with 3 per cent in 1977.

Source: Jonathan Cribb, Paul Johnson, Robert Joyce and Zoe Oldfield, Jubilees Compared: Incomes, Spending and Work in the Late 1970s and Early 2010s, Briefing Note 128, Institute for Fiscal Studies

Link: Briefing Note