Summary - When a job isn't enough

Research into the working poor in five European countries and twenty Dutch municipalities

Original title: "Als werk weinig opbrengt"

Paid work is often seen as a remedy for combating poverty; however, time and time again it transpires that a substantial proportion of people living below the poverty line are actually in work. This study explores the background to the stubborn problem of the working poor. There are three mechanisms which can lead self-employed workers and wage-earners into poverty: a low labour intensity, insufficient hourly earnings and high costs. Theoretically, these mechanisms are driven by societal conditions and by the formal and informal rules which apply within society (laws and regulations, behavioural norms and expectations). From this perspective, the empirical part of the study focuses on ‘in-work poverty’ at three levels: national, municipal and international. This produces a number of options for consideration in national and local social policy.