The effects of reform scenarios for unemployment benefits and social assistance on work incentives and poverty in Lithuania
15 Jul 2016
In 2015 the Lithuanian government launched an ambitious Social Model reform agenda aimed at balancing flexibility of the labour market and security provided through the system of social protection. We simulate alternative scenarios for reforming the unemployment benefit and cash social assistance systems in Lithuania. We first analyse a reform of the social insurance unemployment benefit along the lines currently proposed by the Lithuanian authorities within the new “Social Model”. The social assistance reforms were left outside of the Social Model. However, social assistance, as currently designed, has strong negative effects on the work incentives of the recipients. We construct and consider several reform scenarios: extending the current system of in-work payments; establishing earnings disregards; and modifying the equivalence scale for family. We look at the effects of reforms on financial incentives to search and accept a vacancy as measured by the share of additional income that is taxed away through direct taxes, social insurance contributions or through benefit withdrawal when increasing labour supply (effective marginal tax rate). We also investigate the impact of reforms on poverty, income distribution as well as their first-order financial costs. We use microsimulation techniques applied to a representative sample of Lithuanian households. Our simulations are carried out using EUROMOD –a static tax-benefit microsimulation model developed for the European Union. The model uses micro-data from the 2012 Lithuanian component of the European Union-Survey of Income and Living Conditions (SILC).