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The last safety netA handbook of minimum income protection in Europe$
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Thomas Bahle

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9781847427250

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781847427250.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
The last safety net

Thomas Bahle

Vanessa Hubl

Michaela Pfeifer

Policy Press

The European welfare states have the most extensive systems of social protection in the world. In Europe, the social insurance schemes provide protection against unemployment, sickness, invalidity, and old age. Despite the protection provided by social schemes, poverty has never disappeared, and means-tested minimum income protection (MIP) has remained a necessity. In several European countries, large population groups receive MIP benefits. In Ireland and the United Kingdom, more than twenty percent of older persons depended in MIP in 2007. In the same year in Germany, more than ten percent of the adult working-age population were dependent on MIP benefits. These figures show that MIP systems include sizeable proportions of the population, despite the fact that they are considered the residual last safety net that serves only in cases of need, when people's rights to all other kinds of social benefits are exhausted or do not suffice to guarantee a social minimum. This book provides a comprehensive and recent comparative assessment of the MIP systems in seventeen European countries from the year 1992 to 2010. This book is a result of a research project that was funded by the Hans-Böckler-Stiftung and the Mannheimer Zentrum für Europäische Sozialforschung (MZES) in Germany. The data and the analyses provided in this book are based on the newly developed project database on MIP systems that is available to the public for scientific use.

Keywords:   European welfare states, social protection, social insurance schemes, minimum income protection

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