Activation in the Austrian Social Assistance Scheme: Unproductive Pressure and Low Support

Bettina Leibetseder

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Activation is an essential part of social assistance schemes. This article provides an insight into the implementation of activation in the Austrian social assistance scheme by analyzing the work requirements and support offered in two provinces, Upper Austria and Styria. The main questions addressed include: Does social assistance require everyone to look for employment? What kind of requirements do social assistance offices set, what support do they offer and to whom? To what extent do those activation measures lead to a job search? The analysis draws on survey results for 1,071 claimants and recipients in the two provinces. It is shown that social assistance does not require all respondents to search for employment, and that activation actually depends on province as well as personal circumstances. Items are formed by identifying low and high conditionality in terms of support and pressure based on 11 questions. Current practice incorporates supportive forms of activation to a lesser degree than efforts to force people to find work, due to pressures from the caseworker. Although high conditionality is not found to affect the job search activity, the job search requirement itself fosters people's search for employment.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSocial Policy and Administration
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)549-570
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Social assistance Austria Implementation Activation


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