Analysis of non-take up of minimum income benefits in Austria

Analyse der Nicht-Inanspruchnahme von Mindestsicherungsleistungen in Österreich

PROJECT TEAM AT THE EUROPEAN CENTRE

Michael Fuchs, Katarina Hollan, Anette Scoppetta, Katrin Gasior

BACKGROUND

The main reason for the change from monetary social assistance to the minimum income benefit in 2010/11 was to combat poverty but also to facilitate access to the benefit. A key performance criterion of social protection systems is that benefits reach their target groups. Means-tested programmes, however, tend to be characterised by a certain extent of access problems. Empirical evidence for several EU-countries suggests that non-take-up of means-tested benefits is a widespread problem. Monetary social assistance and its successor minimum income benefit are the most relevant benefits in terms of non-take-up in Austria. Our previous research showed this for monetary social assistance in 2003. The reform towards the minimum income benefit aimed at tackling the non-take-up issue through changing the system and delivery and through simplifying the application procedure. Thus, with our proposed research we will contribute to an improved understanding of the effects of social reforms, and ultimately to a better policy design in Austria.

However, a variety of research shows that non-take-up analysis has to deal with measurement errors that might distort the empirical results. We will make use of several methods to quantify potential measurement errors. However, given that the underlying EU-SILC micro-data for Austria was recently changed from survey to register data for almost all income sources, this offers the chance to significantly reduce the measurement error related to reported incomes. By comparing results based on register and survey data, the study will contribute to a better assessment of the measurement error and as such to a better estimation and understanding of the non-take-up of benefits of last resort.

AIMS

This project aims to measure and analyse the target efficiency of the minimum income benefit and its predecessor benefit called monetary social assistance, the benefits of last resort in Austria. It will provide an up-to-date estimate of the size and determinants of non-take-up of minimum income benefit for the year 2013 as well as of monetary social assistance for the year 2009 and compare it also with the situation back in 2003.

Both, the replacement of monetary social assistance by the minimum income benefit as well as the change in the EU-SILC from survey to register data offer an interesting and unique combination to investigate the access to benefits. In this context, the envisaged study will:

  • provide quantitative non-take-up analyses for the minimum income benefit in 2013 and for monetary social assistance in 2009
  • assess changes in the extent and distribution of non-take-up of the minimum income benefit compared to monetary social assistance and disentangle the effect caused by the reformed benefit from a potential underlying measurement error effect as far as possible
  • review and assess to what extent policy measures and their implementation as well as institutional processes promoted effective take-up of the minimum income benefit, and how effective the implementation of the reform was
  • identify and describe the prevailing gaps between eligibility and take-up, and analyse the variation across social groups

METHODS

In the project, we will use the following methods:

  • As a quantitative analysis, tax-benefit microsimulation based on the model EUROMOD/SORESI with latest micro-data available from EU-SILC 2014 with incomes for 2013 as well as EU-SILC 2010 with incomes for 2009, will be combined with administrative data: gaps between take-up and entitlements as well as determinants for non-take-up will be identified and quantified by comparing proportions of households that fulfil the entitlement criteria with proportions of actually benefit-receiving households
  • Expert interviews will provide an in-depth understanding of the quantitative results, and also of the efficiency of the reformed policy measures and institutional processes following the change from monetary social assistance to minimum income benefit.

PROJECT DURATION

2016/04 – 2019/04