The paper analyses the social protection systems of the Baltic States comparing them to the existing systems of the other European countries and discussing poverty reduction strategies, pension systems, social and unemployment assistance, labour market policies and regulations. The aim is to investigate whether there are relevant differences between the Baltic States and the EU that might inhibit the integration of the former to the European Union. The rapid transformation processes have created acute social problems such as structural unemployment, poverty, social exclusion and growing inequality, challenging people’s absorptive capacity and endangering social cohesion. We show that by now the Baltic States have worked out their poverty reduction strategies, 3-pillar pension systems, unemployment insurance systems, including both the insurance component and poverty reduction as a target, and labour market institutions necessary for a market economy. The paper concludes that although the expenditure on social protection is smaller in the Baltic States than in the EU and the initially selected labour-market-based approach has been complemented with elements of a liberal system, in the future the system may have a tendency towards converging to the European social model. More attention should be paid to implementing active measures of social protection that support social cohesion.
social protection, poverty reduction, pension system, social and unemployment assistance, labour market institutions, the Baltic States
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