A Comparative Study on the Poverty Trend and Driving Factors in Welfare States

복지국가의 빈곤 추세와 변화요인에 관한 비교연구

  • Published : 2005.02.28


Since the 1980s, the western welfare states have experienced a wide spectrum of socio-economic changes; changes in population composition, the economic globalization, the post-industrialization, an increasing flexibility in the labor market. etc. This study examines the trend of poverty in welfare states, and analyzes how those socio-economic changes are related to it. For these purposes, this study first calculates the poverty indices for several years in 10 welfare states using the Luxembourg Income Study database, and then decomposes the index by subpopulation and income sources. Major findings of this study can be summarized as follows. First of all, the welfare state in general has experienced an increasing trend in the degree of poverty since the 1980s. In particular, poverty has greatly intensified in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. Many other welfare states including Canada, Germany, Sweden, and Norway have also experienced substantial increases in poverty. The increasing trend of poverty is not wholly due to changes in population composition such as increases in the aging population and one-parent(mother) families. Contrary to the traditional belief, these population groups are not as much poor as the working-age population. In particular, the degree of poverty in the elderly is less severe than in the working-age group. Furthermore, since the 1980s the market income poverty in the aging population has shown a decreasing trend in many welfare states. The degree and trend of poverty in one-parent families vary greatly across countries, owing to the labor market and income transfer policies. The most important reason for the increasing poverty trend in the welfare state is that the degree of poverty has been deepening in the working-age population. Especially, the market income poverty of the working-age population has considerably increased in every country except the Netherlands. Structural changes in the economy and the labor market may drive the increasing trend of poverty. Further studies and deliberate anti-poverty policies are needed to tackle the factors relating to the increase in the market income poverty.


poverty;welfare state;income transfer;market income;globalization;anti-poverty effect