Minimum income benefit in Austria: Is this social policy instrument able to sustainably combat poverty and social inclusion over the life-course?

Activity: Talk or presentationScience to science


Breaking the intergenerational transmission of poverty is one of the main goals of social investment strategies. To avoid this transmission of poverty across generations, it is necessary to intervene at different life stages of poor people or of people at-risk-of-poverty. This is the task of a broad range of different social policy instruments in developed welfare states. This range usually consists of a mix of different measures, including insurance-based benefits, universal benefits and means-tested benefits, which are paid in cash or provided in-kind. In the proposed paper, we examine in how far a specific means-tested benefit in a conservative welfare state helps to sustainably combat poverty and thereby to break the intergenerational transmission of poverty. For our analysis, we focus on Austria and on the "Bedarfsorientierte Mindestsicherung", i.e. a minimum income benefit, which has been implemented in the Austrian provinces from 2010 onwards. It replaces a large part of the traditional social assistance benefits. The new instrument incorporates, inter alia, several aspects that justify to identify this shift as a move towards more activation and thus towards more social investment. This paper examines the policy shifts of this means-tested benefits. The changes affected both the benefit designs and, in part, the institutional embeddedness. We also discuss the potential of the revised instrument in dealing with old and new risks prevalent throughout the life-course of the recipients. Is the revised means-tested benefit in Austria now more appropriate to sustainably break the intergenerational transmission of poverty than compared to the benefit prior to the reform?
Period1 Sept 20163 Sept 2016
Event titleAnnual ESPAnet Conference 2016: Re-inventing the Welfare State?
Event typeUnknown
Degree of RecognitionInternational

Austrian Classification of Fields of Science and Technology (ÖFOS)

  • 509012 Social policy
  • 504003 Poverty and social exclusion