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N° 105 ( 2022)

English Abstracts

Measuring the coverage of unemployment benefits

Mathieu GRÉGOIRE and Claire VIVÈS

How has coverage of unemployment benefits evolved since the 1980s? This article demonstrates that this apparently simple question has many possible answers. The first, and most classic, is that which looks at the number of jobseekers in receipt of benefit. From this vantage point, the unprecedented reconstitution of historic data sets going back to 1985 shows that coverage has never been lower than in the last few years. The second, promoted by the Pôle Emploi (the French unemployment office) as well as the public employment institutions UNEDIC and DARES, looks at the number of jobseekers eligible to claim benefits, which has seen continuous growth since 2014. This article analyses the potential effects of this change of definition, paying particular attention to the transition from a functional indicator as to the payment of benefits to one geared towards returning jobseekers to work.

Keywords: benefits, unemployment, coverage, indicators, eligibility, claimants, recipients, receipt.

Unemployment benefits from 1979 to 2021: how has eligibility changed?

Mathieu GRÉGOIRE and Claire VIVÈS

This article deals with developments in eligibility for unemployment benefit between 1979 and 2021, studied using an eligibility calculator for all career paths, through successive regulatory developments. It demonstrates that eligibility has varied considerably for those in discontinuous work whereas the eligibility of those in stable employment has remained remarkably consistent, and that the idea of a linear improvement in eligibility for those in discontinuous work turns out to be a myth. In contrast, over the course of 40 years, the rationale of benefits has been profoundly shaken up, moving from an insurance-style model to a savings-account-style model. It is also useful to distinguish two categories of employees in discontinuous employment which are frequently conflated: the “precarious” (in intermittent employment) and the “working unemployed” (those with a history of stable employment), the eligibility of each of which have evolved in different ways.

Keywords: unemployment insurance, benefits, eligibility, stable employment, discontinuous employment.

How can one define the socially acceptable limits of income inequality?


This article proposes a conceptual and methodological framework for defining the socially acceptable limits of income inequality. The first part lays out the main arguments legitimizing the establishment of such limits. Based on this normative framework, the second part discusses the logical arguments allowing the identification of the most relevant concepts and procedures to solidly define the socially acceptable limits of income inequality. The third and final section of the article sets out the main methodological choices deployed in pursuit of an empirical application of this initiative in three countries (France, Ireland, United Kingdom). The results appear to be consistent with those obtained by an exploratory methodology of a totally different nature, which seems to validate the legitimacy of the exercise.

Keywords: income inequality, socially acceptable limits, needs, minimum wage, maximum wage.

How can inequality be kept within socially acceptable limits?


This article discusses certain propositions put forward in the public discourse to keep income inequality within socially acceptable limits. The first part sets out a quick historical overview showing how the question of inequality is currently considered in terms quite different from those in which it was previously discussed going back to the start of the Industrial Revolution. We will go on to detail the contribution of various forms of income and wealth to meeting material needs, with an emphasis on the limits of exchangeability between these different types of resources. The final part discusses in more detail the myriad propositions for distribution – targeted or otherwise – as well as certain measures designed to operate directly on market inequality, including through direct job creation and minimum wage.

Keywords: inequality, need, income, wealth, guaranteed minimum income, basic income, universal public services, guaranteed public employment, minimum wage.

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