Comparing unemployment protection and social assistance in 14 European countries. Four worlds of protection for people of working age

Authors


Michaela Pfeifer, Fachbereich 1/Soziologie, Adolf-Reichwein-Straße 2, D-57068 Siegen, Germany. E-mail: pfeifer@soziologie.uni-siegen.de

Abstract

Pfeifer, M. Comparing unemployment protection and social assistance in 14 European countries. Four worlds of protection for people of working age

This article aims to show which policy responses 14 Western European countries have adopted to deal with rising unemployment levels and increased need for benefits during working age. In contrast to earlier studies, both components of unemployment benefits (UB), i.e. unemployment insurance and unemployment assistance, were taken into account in a social rights indicator that depicts the legal entitlements of the unemployed. In total, there were eight indicators of both UB and social assistance representing expenditure, generosity, problem pressure and benefit entitlements. The following cluster analysis groups countries using these indicators. The resulting typology consisted of four ways of protecting the working-aged: an extensive safety nets type operating well with functioning labour markets; a liberal protection type dealing with low levels of unemployment; a targeted protection type combined with an insider–outsider divide on the labour market; and lastly, a patchy safety nets type facing high unemployment levels.

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