Means-tested benefits in Austria: Activation strategies to sustainably combat poverty?

Activity: Talk or presentationScience to science


Breaking the intergenerational transmission of poverty is one of the main goals of social investment strategies. Since the European Commission launched its Social Investment Package in 2013, social investment seems to be the sine qua-non for sustainable welfare state adjustment. Besides human capital investment, labour market inclusion plays the key role to reform old welfare state types (in terms of their sustainability) and to enable people to get out of the poverty trap. In the proposed paper, we examine in how far means-tested benefits in a conservative welfare state help to combat poverty and unemployment sustainably. Therefore, we focus on three benefits targeted to the poor in Austria, namely "Bedarfsorientierte Mindestsicherung", i.e. minimum income benefit, which has been implemented in the Austrian provinces from 2010 onwards and replaces a large part of traditional social assistance benefits, "Notstandshilfe" (unemployment assistance for the jobless) and "Ausgleichszulage" (compensation allowance for pensioners). The two latter benefits are both means-tested benefits within the Austrian insurance scheme. We examine in how far reforms within the last 20 years led to higher extents of activation. The reformed instruments incorporate, inter alia, several aspects that justify identifying these changes as moves towards more activation and therefore social investment. The changes affected both the benefit designs and, in part, their institutional embeddedness. We also discuss the potential of the revised instruments in dealing with old and new risks. Are the revised means-tested benefits in Austria now more appropriate to break the intergenerational transmission of poverty sustainably than compared to the benefits prior to the reforms?
Period7 Dec 20169 Dec 2016
Event titleRAPSE 2016 Changing Labour Markets: Challenges for Welfare and Labour Market Policy
Event typeUnknown
Degree of RecognitionInternational