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As to your second bullet, I would hazard the guess (and a guess is all it can be without access to the raw data) that severance payments and employer-paid unemployment insurance do not count as social transfers, whereas government-paid unemployment subsidies do. That would take something on the order of five percentage points off the noted difference.

And the incomes that go into the poverty calculation, are they before or after tax? Are all taxes taken into account if the latter? Are employer-paid benefits (health care, etc.) included? If so, are the equivalent publicly funded parts of the Nordic social infrastructure given similar treatment?

In general, I suspect that the pre-redistribution figures say very little about economies like the Nordic ones and are insanely sensitive to the operative definition of "redistribution." It is in many cases very nearly impossible to tell where the government ends and the rest of society begins, making the distinction between income distribution and income redistribution rather unclear.

For instance, the partly labour-union-managed unemployment insurances handle something on the order of 5 % of GDP - better than 80 % of which comes directly from general revenue, making them one of the largest single items on the finance bills. Are they public or private? Are they "redistribution" or "insurance?" I don't know. Does it matter? Not a whit.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue May 20th, 2008 at 06:53:39 AM EST
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