Rescaling inequality? Welfare reform and local variation in social assistance payments
2014 (English)In: Social policy review 26: Analysis and debate in social policy, 2014 / [ed] Kevin Farnsworth, Zoe Irving and Menno Fenger, Bristol: Policy Press, 2014, 239-258 p.Chapter in book (Refereed)
Social assistance and other means tested benefits are the last resort in national social protection systems and variation in benefit receipt are in part a direct consequence of differences in means and needs. Variation may however also be related to local discretion over implementation of national legislation, implying inequality unintended by legislators. Such discretion is generally believed to have increased following decentralizing reforms in the 1990s, an international trend frequently referred to as devolution. More recent reforms have instead often implied recentralization and/or involved institutional cooperation of welfare agencies located at different vertical levels. Little is however known regarding the extent to which shifting divisions of power influences benefit receipt. Using individual level register data, multi-level modelling and a difference-in-difference approach we attempt to link changes in legislation to changes in inter-municipal differences in social assistance payments in the Nordic countries during the period 1990 to 2010. Somewhat simplified, the assumption is that the more detailed the regulation the less variation is possible and vice versa. The results show the changes in inequality in the wake of the reforms to be heterogeneous, both in accordance with and contradictory to the starting hypothesis. Although some of the unexpected results are difficult to account for, others may be explained by the character or implementation of the reforms.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Bristol: Policy Press, 2014. 239-258 p.
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-104198ISBN: 9781447315568OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-104198DiVA: diva2:721149