Published: our working paper on social citizenship measurements in social policy outputs, resources and outcomes across EU member states from 1985 to the present


Working paper Measuring social citizenship in social policy outputs, resources and outcomes across EU member states from 1985 to the present

EuSocialCit members Gianna Eick, Brian Burgoon and Marius Busemeyer have published a working paper entitled Measuring social citizenship in social policy outputs, resources and outcomes across EU member states from 1985 to the present.

Social rights are essential for fully realising European Union (EU) citizenship and reaching the EU’s targets in reducing poverty and social exclusion. This paper lays the empirical groundwork to investigate the development of European social citizenship from 1985 to the present. It does so by drawing on a newly-compiled database, the Comparative Social Citizenship Dataset (CSCD), that brings together existing country-year macro data on policies, regulations, laws, social, economic and political conditions relevant to social rights. This dataset’s key measures concern three categories central to the EUSOCIALCIT’s resource-based conception of social rights: (1) policy outputs, including spending and policy-effort measures of policies seeking to foster social rights; (2) outcomes, societal conditions like poverty and inequality relevant to the societal value-added of social rights; and 3) resources on which citizens and policymakers draw that drive and give policy force to social rights. Based on analyses of the CSCD macro-level measures of such conditions, the paper develops two sets of insights into a resource-based conception of social rights in Europe.

First, it identifies key trends in social rights outputs. Convergence trends suggest the emergence of a European welfare state model and not a race to the bottom in social rights. These trends were mostly observed for the pre-crisis years prior to 2007/2008. In contrast, divergence in outputs, resources and outcomes increased somewhat again after that, despite intensified EU-level efforts to establish and expand the social pillar of European integration in the 2010s. Apparently, there is (still) some disconnect between the actual policy developments within and across member states on the one hand and the dominant direction of policy initiatives at the EU level on the other – an issue that later deliverables of this work package will explore. Whether there is recalibration, i.e. redistribution of resources from one social policy area to another, is difficult to say. However, our analysis confirms a noticeable trend from social transfers towards social investments.

Second, the paper also explores basic macro-level connections between social-rights resources, outputs and outcomes crucial to a resource-based conception of social citizenship. Focusing on links between outputs and outcomes, bivariate macro-level associations suggest that social policy spending measures – both aggregate measures of social policy effort and also more broken-down measures focused on education, employment and family policies – may considerably improve inequality outcomes over time, including reducing poverty risk and mitigating income and gender inequalities. Focusing on links between resources and outputs, macro-level associations suggest a wide array of how such resources matter, including examples of instrumental, normative and enforcement resources as distinguished in our research. And focusing on how resources might moderate the links between outputs and outcomes, we also see how key welfare-spending measures that are social-rights outputs can have quite disparate implications for outcomes like poverty and inequality, depending on these same measures of resources. Overall, the patterns presented here suggest how the CSCD is a useful data source for exploring social citizenship on the macro-level, and clarify the empirical manifestations of a resource-based conception of social citizenship.