This paper 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 that 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 LIS data and their relationship to class assignment is investigated. We find that a high share of social assistance recipients in 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.

Kraus, Margit and Katja Hölsch (2006), European Schemes of Social Assistance: An Empirical Analysis of Set-Ups and Distributive Impacts , International Journal of Social Welfare forthcoming.


Kraus, Margit
Hölsch, Katja


social assistance, inequality, classification