4Is: Inequalities, Insurance, Incentives and Immigration: Challenges and Solutions for the Welfare State

The project investigated three different aspects of the welfare state: Inequality and well-being in the welfare state, preferences for the welfare state and the costs and effects of tax incentives. 


The main findings include:

  • During the recent economic crises, tax and benefit policies in the European countries reduced inequality mainly through policy changes to benefits, whereas policy changes to taxes and social insurance contributions raised inequality in some countries and lowered it in others. 
  • The higher education expansion in Great Britain led to higher living standards mostly through higher wages 
  • The UK tax-benefit system play an important role in reducing both permanent and transitory income shocks, with taxes and means-tested benefits playing the most important role. 
  • Mothers’ social class matter for vulnerability to poverty after divorce and child birth 
  • When conducting policy evaluation, the effect of potential reforms varies widely depending on the well-being concept, such as subjective life satisfaction and equivalent incomes, used in the evaluation. 
  • Inheritances reduce wealth inequality, as measured by the Gini coefficient or top wealth shares, but that they increase absolute dispersion. 
  • While women are still a minority of the top decile group, and make up a smaller share the higher up in the distribution we move, their presence has steadily increased in all top groups over the past four decades. Mobility is generally higher for top income women compared to top income men but the trend since the 1990s is toward increased gender equality in this respect too. 
  • Individuals who experience a job loss become more supportive of redistribution 
  • Individuals that experience an increase in the share of foreign born in the neighbourhood become less likely to support universal access to National Health Service.

More information can be found on 4Is website.

Research Team

Prof. E. Mörk
Uppsala University

Prof. M. Brewer
University of Essex

Prof. J. Pirttilä
University of Tampere

Prof. K. Kotarkopi
University of Turku