FES | Federación Española de Sociología

XII Congreso de la FES

Regional minimum income schemes. An adequate instrument to contrast poverty and social exclusion?

GT 11 Southern European Societies

Marcello Natili (Università degli Studi di Milano)


Sesión de comunicaciones orales Franja 5 : Welfare
Tipo de sesión: Sesión de comunicaciones orales
Día: Saturday, 2 de July de 2016
Hora: 09:00 a 10:45
Lugar: 205

In Europe, minimum income schemes (Mis) constitute the main policies to fight poverty and social exclusion. Across countries, those measures differ extensively in terms of generosity, duration, eligibility requirements, conditionality and overall expenditure, but also in term of institutional configuration: a) in Anglo-Saxon countries – but also in France and Belgium – Mis are financed and regulated at the national level, whereas sub-national governments role is limited to implementation b) in the Nordic countries – but also in Germany and in the Netherlands - the central State establishes minimum standards that have to be guaranteed throughout the country, but subnational governments are very relevant in regulating and organizing the provisions of minimum income schemes c) finally, in some countries, sub-national governments have assumed a crucial role in the anti-poverty field in the absence of a national legislative framework setting minimum standards, guaranteeing coordination between different instruments, substituting regional governments in case of non-compliance and facilitating assuring the diffusions of best practices.

This paper investigates the consequences in term of overall institutional coherence and effectiveness of a fully decentralized model: what happens when anti-poverty safety nets are introduced and institutionalized at the sub-national level? What are the main consequences in terms of individual right to access to social protection?

In order to answer to those questions, this paper analyses the policy trajectories of regional Mis in Italy and Spain. Traditionally, the absence of a national Mis has been considered one of the main features of the social protection system in both these Mediterranean countries. Yet in the last twenty years’ regions have introduced programs that aimed to contrast poverty and social exclusion in absence of a national framework. Against this background, this paper aims to investigate the consequences of this uncoordinated decentralization process, providing firstly a detailed description of the policy evolution of regional safety nets in Italy and in Spain, highlighting the comparative peculiarities of their fragmented minimum income models. Secondly, it discusses whether these decentralized systems have led to greater efficiency and responsiveness to local specific issues, or rather has augmented territorial inequality between poor and rich regions in the possibility of accessing to inclusive and protective minimum income benefits.

Palabras clave: Minimum Income Protection, Poverty and Social Exclusion, Federalism and Welfare State