In this upper group, government programs aimed at mitigating exclusion are mostly successful. However, inequality is often on the rise, driven by economic crisis or immigration.
Poverty rates are comparatively low in Finland, the Netherlands, Iceland, Austria and the Czech Republic. Iceland’s economic collapse has led to cuts in pensions and social benefits, but the tax system has been made more progressive. Redistributive social systems are minimal in Switzerland, though income inequality remains moderate.
In this group, pockets of poverty remain despite active social policies, and inequality is often on the rise.
Governments in Ireland, Germany and France have put considerable effort toward reducing poverty. Ireland’s steep rise in unemployment threatens past gains, while inequality is rising in Germany. France’s transfer system is generous, but has led to quasi-permanent unemployment for some population groups.
Japan’s once-model social system is now characterized by rising inequality and poverty. Inequality in the USA, one of the OECD’s most unequal societies, is at a 90-year high. Stimulus measures aimed at addressing rising poverty had little significant effect.
Slovakia’s relatively egalitarian society features a high but shrinking share of youth not working or attending school, and a serious risk of exclusion for Roma individuals. Anti-crisis measures supporting the unemployed in this country were slow to develop. The share of youth not in education or employment has shown particularly troubling gains in Portugal.