This study analyzes the performance of social assistance and family
benefit programs in eight new member states of the European Union
from the perspective of fiscal impact and effectiveness. It is
based on household survey data for six of the countries, as well as
budget data and information on program design collected at the
national level. The paper finds that, although social assistance
programs in the new member states are small in terms of coverage
and expenditure levels (reaching 2 to 5 percent of the population),
the programs are an important safety net for the poor. Programs are
relatively well targeted, with between 30 and 60 percent of
resources going to the poorest quintile of the population. For
those who receive them, benefits can make up as much as 37 percent
of average consumption of the poor.
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