Poverty and social exclusion in Europe: where are things at?

By Sandrine Levasseur

In March 2010, the EU set itself the target for the year 2020 of reducing the number of people living below the poverty line or in social exclusion by 20 million compared with 2008, i.e. a target of 97.5 million “poor” people in 2020. Unfortunately, due to the crisis, this goal will not be reached. The latest available figures show that in 2013 the EU had 122.6 million people living in poverty or social exclusion. Surprisingly, the EU’s inability to meet the target set by the Europe 2020 initiative is due mainly to the EU-15 countries, the so-called “advanced” countries in terms of their economic development [1]. Continue reading “Poverty and social exclusion in Europe: where are things at?”

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France, Germany: The nonworking poor

By Guillaume Allègre

“The ways of thinking society, managing it and quantifying it are indissolubly linked”

Alain Desrosières, 1940-2013

The subject of working poverty emerged in Europe in public debate and academic discussion in the early 2000s, in parallel with the implementation of policies to “make work pay”. European guidelines on employment have explicitly mentioned the need to reduce working poverty since 2003, and Eurostat set up an indicator on the working poor in 2005 (Bardone and Guio). In France, policies to make work pay have taken the particular form of earned income supplements (PPE, then RSA). In Germany, a series of reforms of the labour market and social welfare (the Hartz Laws) were introduced in the early 2000s with the aim of activating the unemployed. Continue reading “France, Germany: The nonworking poor”

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Spain: a lose-lose strategy

by Danielle Schweisguth

At a time when the IMF has publicly recognized that it underestimated the negative impact of fiscal adjustment on Europe’s economic growth, Spain is preparing to publish its public deficit figure for 2012. The initial estimate should be around 8% of GDP, but this could be revised upwards, as was the case in 2011 – while the target negotiated with the European Commission is 6.3%. With social distress at a peak, only a sustainable return to growth would allow Spain to solve its budget problems through higher tax revenue. But the austerity being imposed by Europe is delaying the return of economic growth. And the level of Spain’s fiscal multiplier, which by our estimates is between 1.3 and 1.8, is rendering the policy of fiscal restraint ineffective, since it is not significantly reducing the deficit and is keeping the country in recession. Continue reading “Spain: a lose-lose strategy”

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Higher unemployment in France, greater poverty in Germany

By Eric Heyer

Will France be the new Greece, as The Economist has argued? Should French reforms be accelerated and be modelled on those implemented in Germany ten years ago? For German public opinion, for its authorities and for a large number of economic experts, the answer is obvious. Not only does Germany have a lower deficit, but unlike its French neighbour it has also managed to significantly reduce its unemployment rate. Starting from a similar level in the early 2000s (close to 7.7% at end 2001), the unemployment rate now stands at 5.4% of the labour force in Germany, 4.5 percentage points below the level in France (Figure 1). Continue reading “Higher unemployment in France, greater poverty in Germany”

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