Policymakers attempt to accomplish three broad goals in designing benefit systems: support the living standards of low‐income families, especially when children are present; encourage work and economic self‐sufficiency; and keep costs to the taxpayer
low. These goals often are in conflict with one another, so trade‐offs have to be made. This publication analyses the effects of taxes and benefits on incomes of working‐age individuals and their families in 29 OECD countries1 for the year 2005, and
it describes changes since 2001. Detailed country‐specific information about tax and benefit systems, and a regularly updated selection of key indicators calculated from the OECD Tax‐Benefit Models are available on the Internet at www.oecd.org/els/social/workincentives.
This volume focuses on comparisons across countries, and the sort of questions it answers include: what benefits do unemployed people in different countries receive and how does this compare to the net income they receive while in work? Does the amount of benefit depend on
how long someone is unemployed? How much extra does the tax and benefit system give to families with children? How much does a jobless person need to earn before he or she is better off than they would be if they stayed on benefit? Apart from unemployment benefits,
what other government policies impact on financial work incentives and what is their net effect?