Making Benefits Work. Characteristics and Effects of In-Work Benefits in Different Welfare State Contexts

P.I.: Jan Brülle
Funding: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Program “Eigene Stelle”
Duration: 4/2022-3/2025

Ongoing changes in modern labour markets increased inequalities in earnings in many countries and led to a growth of low-wage employment and precarious household incomes. Whereas traditionally welfare states mainly catered to the needs of groups outside the labour market, the provision of social security to employed households therefore becomes increasingly relevant. The proposed project provides an in-depth study of in-work benefits – broadly understood as public cash benefits that are paid to employees with low household incomes – and their effect on labour markets as well as individuals’ life courses in international perspective. I will extend previous research by building comparative indicators of in-work benefit systems in a large sample of countries. Using multi-level models, I will assess effects of different characteristics of in-work benefits on employment, wages and in-work poverty risks. I will complement these analyses by studying two countries in more detail – Germany and the United Kingdom – as examples of different designs of in-work benefits. Focusing on claimants of in-work benefits and using sequence analyses and statistical matching to describe individual life-courses and to estimate causal effects of benefit take-up, I will study implications for household composition and individual life courses.