The Redistributive Effect of Public and Private Social Programmes: A Cross-Country Empirical Analysis
19 Pages Posted: 21 Dec 2009
Date Written: December 2009
A function of many national social protection systems is to substantially redistribute income. However, the size and nature of social protection programmes are changing. In a number of countries there has been a shift from public towards private social protection arrangements, with the latter substituting for, or complementing, public programmes. Developing earlier work, this present article analyses the redistributive impact on income of public versus private social protection programmes. Using recent data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, we find a strong positive relationship between public social expenditures and income redistribution across countries. For private social expenditures, we find a weak, but statistically significant, negative relationship with the level of redistribution. In countries where a larger share of total social expenditure is accorded to private arrangements there is less income redistribution. We conclude that the choice between the relative weight of public and private provision of social protection affects the redistributive impact of the welfare state.
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