Report on the Research Symposium held on 22 May 2019 by Kobe University Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence
On 22 May (Wednesday) 2019 Kobe University Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence held its First Year Research Symposium entitled
"Income Security and its Current Challenges: Developments in the EU". The symposium was held in the conference room of Second Building
at Rokkodai campus of Kobe University.
Professor Yuki Sekine (Graduate School of Law, Kobe University) opened the symposium by introducing the speaker, Professor Ive Marx (Professor of Socioeconomics at University of Antwerp) and the discussant, Professor Yannick Vanderborght (Professor of Political Science at UCLouvain Saint-Louis-Bruxelles).
In Part 1 of the symposium Prof. Marx gave a talk on "Doing better for the poor", based upon a book which he co-edited under the title "Handbook on In-Work Poverty". A central theme of Prof. Marx's speech was whether the traditional pillars of minimum income protection need to be strengthened or whether radically new instruments of redistribution are needed. After a comparison of employment and poverty rates in Europe in the last decade, Prof. Marx emphasised that after the financial crisis in the EU, minimum income protection regained prominence. However, as the speaker pointed out, the guaranteed minimum incomes are in fact below poverty thresholds in most EU Member States. Prof. Marx then outlined the main theoretical arguments concerning the raise of the minimum wages. Finally, he explained in detail some instruments of additional income support measures used across the EU to fight the in-work poverty.
In Part 2 of the symposium Prof. Marx gave a talk on "For the poor, but not only the poor: on optimal design of redistributive policy", drawing upon his paper with the same title. Prof. Marx addressed the question whether the purposeful targeting of benefits towards the poor is effective. He then demonstrated that the controversy over targeting continues in both academia and international organisations. Next, he outlined several influential studies on the relationship between the targeting of transfer income and income redistribution. In second half of his talk, Prof. Marx highlighted major social policy shifts in the USA and Europe and explained what these shifts implied for the safety net provisions. The speaker concluded that the strongest redistribution is observed in countries with quite strong targeting to the poor, therefore for effective redistribution pro-poor targeting does matter.
Each part of the symposium was followed by discussion- Prof. Vanderborght and Prof. Fumio Iida (Graduate School of Law, Kobe University) discussed Part 1, while Prof. Vanderborght and Prof. Sekine discussed Part 2. There was also an active Q&A session when the audience members asked questions related to each talk. The symposium, which was attended by 11 participants, gave a very valuable opportunity to Kobe University researchers and graduate students to discuss the income security from the perspective of Europe and Japan.