Social Support and Activation Policies for Families at Risk in Five European Countries

Research question/goal: 

Recent changes in social structures and social policies in European societies have increased the risk of social exclusion for disadvantaged social groups. In the planned project the focus is on families at risk, especially on: (1) families with unemployed providers (in particular long-term unemployed and social assistance recipients), (2) families in which parents have low qualifications, (3) lone parent families, (4) families with low wage earners. Families face higher risks than single persons or couples and have higher needs, because they have to maintain dependent children and to fulfil additional caring responsibilities. Moreover, they cannot as easily adapt to changing labour market conditions. Therefore the mix of social support and activation policies is of particular relevance for families: which policy package provides for both social inclusion and adequate income for families at risk? This question will be studied by comparing Germany with four other European countries (Denmark, the Netherlands, France and Great Britain). These countries have all introduced major social and labour market policy reforms in recent years, but their policy packages show different combinations of social support and activation. Both Denmark and the Netherlands have emphasized activation, but supportive family policy is more developed in Denmark. France and Germany have only recently started with activation policies, but family policy in France is still stronger. Great Britain so far is characterized by strong workfare policies and reluctant family policy.

Current stage: 

In 2013 data analysis was completed and a first draft of the book prepared. Selected results were presented in various presentations at workshops and conferences. The finalization of the book started in November.

Fact sheet

2009 to 2014
Data Sources: 
Policy analysis; Aggregate data; EU-SILC
Geographic Space: 
Germany, France, Great Britain, Denmark, the Netherlands



Bahle, Thomas, Vanessa Hubl and Michaela Pfeifer (2011): The last safety net. A handbook of minimum income protection in Europe. Bristol: Policy Press. more