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Edited by David Dolowitz, Magdaléna Hadjiisky and Romuald Normand

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Edited by Sakari Hänninen, Kirsi-Marja Lehtelä and Paula Saikkonen

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Edited by Gabriele Abels and Jan Battke

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Attila Ágh

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Andreas Faludi

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Simon Birnbaum, Tommy Ferrarini, Kenneth Nelson and Joakim Palme

Open access

Simon Birnbaum, Tommy Ferrarini, Kenneth Nelson and Joakim Palme

The capacity of the welfare state to reduce poverty is a classical goal of social policy. The empirical analyses in this chapter demonstrate how institutional structures shaping generational welfare contracts are mirrored in poverty statistics. Poverty tends to be lower in countries with balanced generational welfare contracts. Differences in poverty between age-related risk categories are also comparatively small among countries with balanced generation welfare contracts. The degree to which social insurance is balanced and provides for similar levels of protection for different age-related social risks thus appears crucial for the anti-poverty effects of modern welfare states. At higher poverty thresholds, age-related imbalances in social insurance exert a downward pressure on replacement levels, with higher poverty rates as a consequence. This is observed in the analyses of both total populations and in each age-related risk category.

Open access

Simon Birnbaum, Tommy Ferrarini, Kenneth Nelson and Joakim Palme

Subjective well-being is seldom found among the explicit goal dimensions of policy, and may thus best be viewed as an unintended consequence of social policymaking. The chapter is guided by the idea that subjective well-being may provide important clues to the authors’ investigation of generational welfare contracts. Using new comparative attitudinal data on happiness and life satisfaction, the authors’ analyses indicate that the generational structure of social citizenship indeed is related to subjective well-being. In all countries, the clear majority of citizens are happy and satisfied with life. However, people tend to be somewhat happier and satisfied with life in countries with balanced generational welfare contracts, although cross-national differences are somewhat compressed. An important institutional mechanism appears to be the overall level of income replacement in age-related social insurance, which tends to be higher in countries with balanced generational welfare contracts.

Open access

Simon Birnbaum, Tommy Ferrarini, Kenneth Nelson and Joakim Palme

Links between generational welfare contracts and employment outcomes are analyed in this chapter. Poorly functioning labor markets pose serious threats to positive-sum solutions in generational politics. The dominating view in mainstream behavioral economics has come to portray comprehensive welfare states as causing major obstacles for labor market performance and employment growth, thus indirectly raising concerns about the long-term sustainability of balanced generational welfare contracts. The empirical results presented in this chapter strongly challenge such ideas and rather point in the direction of portraying balanced generational welfare contracts as an important social investment. Unemployment appears to be largely unrelated to the ways in which countries have organized their generational welfare contracts, whereas labor force participation tends to be higher in countries where income replacement in social insurance is more extensive, as in countries with balanced generational welfare contracts.

Open access

Simon Birnbaum, Tommy Ferrarini, Kenneth Nelson and Joakim Palme

In the chapter the authors move the analytical spotlight to social and political trust. Whereas social trust is often considered important in shaping social ties between citizens, political trust is more related to the perceived legitimacy of the state and its institutions. Both facets of trust and their relationships to different generational welfare contracts contribute important pieces to the puzzle of understanding how generational politics can receive broad popular support, as well as to how just welfare state institutions can be promoted and maintained for the sustainable future. The authors observed clear relationships between type of generational welfare contract and both forms of trust, lending further empirical evidence for the presence of positive-sum solutions in generational politics. Balanced generational welfare contracts are related to higher levels of political and social trust. Differences in political trust between age-related risk groups also tend to be smaller in countries with balanced generational welfare contracts.