Measuring the adequacy of social protection by looking at those above the poverty line

This study builds on previous efforts to refine the Monitoring Framework on access to social protection for workers and the self-employed, adopted on November 2020 by the European Commission and the Social Protection Committee. None of the indicators currently included in the Monitoring Framework aims at measuring the adequacy of social protection when a risk materialises. This gap should not be overlooked given that any type of social programme is aimed at effectively protecting individuals when they face a certain need. For instance, sickness benefits are aimed to adequately protect people in sickness. Accordingly, new indicators are proposed to measure social protection in Europe. They are developed exploiting the approach ideated by Podestà and Marzadro (2017) to operationalise the de-commodification outcomes of different social programmes. The adequacy of a certain social programme can be thus measured through the percentage of individuals not at risk of poverty who interrupt their job activity for retirement, unemployment, maternity, etc. Based on the information provided by EU-SILC database, the adequacy level was computed for pension and unemployment benefits for EU27 countries over the 2014-2020 period. As expected, the adequacy of public pension benefits is significantly higher than that guaranteed by unemployment benefits. Furthermore, the adequacy levels for these two programmes were also estimated simulating that retirees and unemployed individuals leave their respective households to live alone in order to capture the sole contribute of pension and unemployment benefits, respectively. Again, the results were not unexpected: neutralising the family role in protecting retirees and unemployed individuals, pension and especially unemployment benefits result much less capable to provide an adequate protection.