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European welfare state regimes and their generosity towards the elderly

By Axel Börsch-Supan


The paper examines the generosity of the European welfare state towards the elderly. It shows how various dimensions of the welfare regimes have changed during the recent 10-15 years and how this evolution was related to the process of economic integration. Dimensions include general generosity towards the elderly and more specifically generosity towards early retirement and generosity towards the poor. Using aggregate data (EUROSTAT, OECD) as well as individual data (SHARE, the new Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe), the paper looks at the statistical correlations among those types of system generosity and actual policy outcomes, such as unemployment and poverty rates among the young and the elderly, and the inequality in wealth, income and consumption. While the paper is largely descriptive, we also try to understand which economic and political forces drive social expenditures for the elderly in the European Union and whether spending for the elderly crowds out spending for the young.

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