The Pro-Elderly Bias of Social Policies in Israel: A Historical-Institutional Account
31 Pages Posted: 28 Jul 2010
Date Written: July 28, 2010
Accelerated population aging and high voting turnout rates among elderly voters in recent decades have led many social scientists to predict increasing pro-elderly biases in the social policies of mature welfare states. This article investigates and empirically estimates the evolving age orientation of social policies in Israel, which is a comparatively young society that has nevertheless aged significantly since independence in 1948. We present a historical overview of the development of policy efforts towards different age groups and estimate an Elderly/Non-Elderly Spending Ratio at four points in time between 1975 and 2005. We argue that in its first five decades, the Israeli welfare state uniquely combined a broadly universalistic and citizenship-based outlook with a number of significant particularistic spending biases towards specific subgroups. But from the second half of the 1990s onwards, the pro-elderly policy bias of the Israeli welfare state has strongly increased. These findings support Lynch's thesis for 21 OECD countries, which posits that a shift from a universal to a more particularistic institutional model of welfare will result in a higher pro-elderly bias of social spending.
Keywords: Generational Conflict, Population Aging, Age-Bias, Child Allowances, Pensions, Israeli Welfare Regime
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