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Social benefits can beat poverty

Social benefits can combat the kind of poverty seen in countries like Haiti, according to the Federal Statistics Office report

(Keystone)

Switzerland's Federal Statistics Office says state benefits are essential to combatting poverty. The release of the report, the first of its kind in Switzerland, coincides with the United Nations Social Summit underway in Geneva.

Central to the report and summit is the belief that social justice and equality must run parallel with globalisation.

The report found that Switzerland's old age pension scheme and social benefits are very effective in combating poverty amongst the elderly.

The study also said that state benefits, which account for one third of revenue for people less well off, also reduce poverty amongst one-parent families, and amongst the unemployed and divorced.

Switzerland is hosting the UN summit and its sister event, Geneva 2000, to raise awareness of the need for a social dimension to an expanding global economy.

On Tuesday the 188 countries participating in the summit will look at ways of developing "humane market economies". The UN General Assembly admitted that it was still a long way from meeting its target, set five years ago, of raising more than half of the world's population out of poverty.

Switzerland has called for the developing world to benefit from the opportunities offered by globalisation in order to foster greater social cohesion.

These sentiments are echoed in the Federal Statistics Office's study into the benefits provided by a social state. The study concludes that poverty, social justice and the welfare state still figure prominently on Switzerland's political agenda.

This, despite the clamour for a share in the expanding global economy.

swissinfo with agencies

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