Welfare reform in European countries
This paper estimates the welfare and distributional impact of two types of welfare reform in the 15 (pre-enlargement) member countries of the European Union. The reforms are revenue neutral and financed by an overall and uniform increase in marginal tax rates on earnings. The first reform distributes the additional tax revenue uniformly to everybody (traditional welfare) while the second reform distributes tax proceeds uniformly to workers only (in-work benefit).
It builds a simple model of labour supply encompassing responses to taxes and transfers along both the intensive and extensive margin. It then uses EUROMOD to describe current welfare and tax systems in European Union countries and use calibrated labour supply elasticities along the intensive and extensive margins to analyze the effects of the two welfare reforms. It quantifies the equity-efficiency trade-off for a range of elasticity parameters. In most countries, because of large existing welfare programmes with high phase-out rates, the uniform redistribution policy is undesirable unless the redistributive tastes of the government are extreme. The in-work benefit reform, on the other hand, is desirable in a very wide set of cases. It discusses the practical policy implications for European welfare policy.