Stream 15: Social assistance and activation measures: mechanisms and impacts

Silvia Girardi, Philippe Van Kerm and Alessio Fusco

The recent economic crisis in many countries has produced an increase in the demand for last-resort social benefits together with increased pressures to control spending. As a result, the performance of minimum income schemes and, more broadly social assistance, has been increasingly under the spotlight.

Increasing concerns for the economic efficiency of social assistance have therefore pushed scholars to investigate the reasons explaining prolonged welfare use and to answer questions such as: Is persistence in welfare receipt connected to the design of the welfare program or to long lasting adverse characteristics of the individuals? Does the community (e.g. family, neighbourhood) or macroeconomic environment affect individuals’ behaviour and trajectories?

In addition, social assistance programs in some countries give access to activation schemes to foster labour market participation. The existence of these schemes lead to questions such as: How do activation schemes interact with minimum income support scheme in determining individuals’ welfare use? Are activation schemes successful in promoting exit from social assistance support? If yes, does the termination of welfare support result in the labour integration and the social inclusion of the beneficiary?

The purpose of this stream is to analyse the two components of social assistance and activation measures, either separately or in conjunction, to analyse the mechanisms that may explain sustained reliance to (or exit from) social assistance and the role of activation policies for the exit from welfare support.