• centralisation;
  • classification;
  • inequality;
  • redistribution;
  • social assistance

This article analyses the distributive impacts of various statutory and institutional settings of European schemes of social assistance. For this purpose, two sets of classifications of European schemes of social assistance are introduced, which classify the systems according to their level and statutory settings and according to their degree of centralisation, respectively. Subsequently, the distributive impacts of seven selected EU systems are calculated on the basis of Luxembourg Income Study (LIS) data and their relationship to class assignment is investigated. We find that a high share of social assistance recipients in the population concurs with better distributive effectiveness, while a higher social assistance budget or higher benefit levels do not necessarily yield a better performance. Various forms of targeting seem to enhance distributive efficiency. Concerning centralisation, the results do not show that a certain degree of centralisation yields better results with regard to distributive effectiveness or efficiency.