Investigating Social Protection Convergence in the EU-15: A Panel Data Analysis
The scientific investigation goal of this paper is to analyze the convergence of social protection indexes within the EU-15 member states. More specifically, we employ a panel data analysis, testing certain hypotheses of welfare convergence upon the 15 EU Member States, for the years 1990 to 2009, by considering three specific factors. GDP growth rate is used first as a proxy for the financial capacity of the system, while unemployment provides, next, a broader picture of the demand for social security benefits. Finally, the dependency ratio is used as a proxy of the countries’ socio-demographic characteristics. Moreover, certain other exogenous factors reflecting economic integration are considered also. Panel data estimations confirm the existence of conditional β-convergence of social expenditure in EU-15 countries, with unemployment, dependency ratio and GDP growth having a significant impact upon the growth of social protection expenditure. With respect to specific external factors, the existing evidence is less clear.