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Poor man in subway
1 Dec. 2021 -
16:00 - 17:15
Erasmus University Rotterdam
Burgemeester Oudlaan
Erasmus Paviljoen

Disappointing Poverty Trends

and the tragedy of the active welfare state: which policies for the future?

Why have rich welfare democracies in the past decades not been successful in reducing poverty despite higher incomes and employment rates? Professor Bea Cantillon, chairholder of the Jacques van Doorn Chair | NIAS Fellowship will find an answer to this pressing question in a public lecture at the Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences.

Followed by responses of Professor Pearl Dykstra & Professor Romke van der Veen, moderated by Professor Jeroen van der Waal.

About the Lecture

Taking Rawls theory of justice as ethical compass, the primary mission of the welfare state is to improve, to the extent possible, the living conditions of the most vulnerable. However, the empirical evidence suggests that, while relative income poverty among the elderly has declined quite substantially in many countries over the past decades, since the nineties of the previous century, poverty among the working age population started to grow.

From the Rawlsian perspective that social and economic inequality is only justified if the least advantaged in society benefit from it, the disquieting simultaneous increase of inequality and poverty raises the question why, in general, have rich welfare democracies in the past decades not been successful in reducing poverty despite higher incomes and employment rates?

We argue that the halt of the post-war virtuous circle of growth, employment and poverty reduction is systemic in nature, that is a) consistent with the basic characteristics of the post-war national welfare state and b) encompassing the organization of the welfare state as a whole. Alternative policy orientations beyond the strategies deployed today are needed, such as, for instance, a partial basis income, support for social entrepreneurship and wealth taxation.

About Bea Cantillon

Prof. Cantillon is a Professor of Social Policy at the University of Antwerp and a member of that university’s Herman Deleeck Centre for Social Policy. At ESSB and NIAS she was appointed to the Prof. Jacques van Doorn Chair | NIAS Fellow for a period of five months in 2020.

She studied Political and Social Sciences at the Universities of Antwerp and Leuven. She is a prolific author with many international publications. Bea Cantillon has been a member of the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts since 2003. Prof. Cantillon is Secretary-General of the Foundation for International Studies on Social Security. She holds an honorary doctorate from the Université Saint-Louis Bruxelles. Between 2004 and 2008 she was the Vice-Rector of the University of Antwerp.

Prof. Cantillon regularly acts as a consultant to the Belgian government. She was a senator in Belgium between 1995 and 1999, and chair of the Cantillon Committee for Social Security Reform for Self-Employed Persons between 2000 and 2002. She is a member of the High Council for Employment and has been a member of the Expert Committee on Pensions System Reform 2020-2040 since 2013. She chairs 11.11.11 , the umbrella organisation for development aid in Flanders, as well as the Antwerp Saint Ignatius Academic Centre (UCSIA). UCSIA’s mission is to preserve and promote the intellectual, social, material and spiritual legacy of the Jesuits in Antwerp and the Low Countries.

Organised by International Lecture Series DPAS and the Prof. Jacques van Doorn Chair | NIAS Fellowship


All are welcome, but registration is required. Please register here. Drinks are cancelled as a result of stricter corona measures.

The venue can only be entered with a valid Corona check app or green pass.