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Welfare Reform on the Web (January 2008): Social security - overseas

Does social assistance recipiency influence unemployment? Macro-level findings from Sweden in a period of turbulence

L. Brännström and S.-Å. Stenberg

Acta Sociologica, vol. 50, 2007, p. 347-362

There has been debate over whether unemployment due to a shortage of jobs increases welfare recipiency, or whether the ready availability of welfare benefits encourages idleness. This article addresses this question through an analysis of Swedish monthly data on aggregated open unemployment and means-tested social assistance recipiency in the period 1991-2004. Results suggest that frequency of social assistance recipiency reacts to changes in unemployment levels rather than the other way round.

Free movement, social security and gender in the EU

V. Paskalia

Oxford: Hart, 2007

The book examines the system of co-ordination of national social security laws in the European Union from a gender perspective. The central question raised in it concerns the level of social security protection offered to women moving throughout the Union in the case of work interruption or marriage dissolution. The social security protection of women has traditionally been based on two criteria, namely economic activity and family/marriage. Work interruptions, in particular for child-rearing, challenge the invocation of economic activity as an effective basis for social security rights. Changed social and family conditions, including the emergence of atypical relationships and increase in divorce rates, challenge the criterion of family/marriage. Efforts have been made within the framework of the national systems of the Member States to address these challenges, often unsuccessfully. How successful then has the European system of co-ordination, the aim of which is to provide a sufficient level of protection to migrant workers and their families, been in addressing these challenges? The book contains a comprehensive discussion of the phenomenon and legal institution of social security, as well as a thorough analysis of the current state of European Community law concerning co-ordination, with a particular focus on gender. In conclusion, several problematic areas are identified, where solutions have to be worked out and action has to be taken.

Improving employment participation for welfare recipients facing personal barriers

D. Perkins

Social Policy and Society, vol. 7, 2008, p. 13-26

There is growing evidence that welfare recipients with personal barriers to paid work such as mental health difficulties or substance abuse problems are not being well served by conventional employment assistance services. However, there is also evidence such a large proportion of this group wants to be in employment, and that paid work can aid their recovery. This paper concludes by identifying two promising approaches to helping them into paid work, the supported work model and the transitional support model.

Performance-based contracting in social welfare programs

C.J. Heinrich and Y. Choi

American Review of Public Administration, vol. 37, 2007, p. 409-435

In 1997, concurrent with the introduction of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Wisconsin ended the county government monopoly of public assistance administration by inviting private sector agencies to compete for contracts to manage local-level social welfare programmes. Performance-based contracting was also introduced as a primary mechanism for motivating and monitoring the performance of agencies delivering social welfare services. This article presents an intensive study of performance-based contracting for social welfare programmes in Wisconsin. The research takes advantage of temporal variation in the design of service delivery contracts to analyse the implications of contract design for programme management and performance.

Programme effectiveness in activating welfare recipients to work: the case of Hong Kong

K.-L. Tang and C.-K. Cheung

Social Policy and Administration, vol. 41, 2007, p. 747-767

In response to the Asian economic crisis of the late 1990s, the government of Hong Kong launched welfare-to-work programmes in 1999. These measures include training, community work experience, job search assistance and earnings disregards among others. This article aims to scrutinise the impact of the Intensive Employment Assistance Project, Community Work programme, and disregarded earnings arrangements on able-bodied welfare recipients’ work motivation and (attitudinal) welfare dependency. Findings demonstrate the effectiveness of these three measures in raising work motivation and diminishing welfare dependency.

Welfare reform and black women’s economic development

M.V. Alfred

Adult Education Quarterly, vol. 57, 2007, p. 293-311

The 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act requires benefits claimants to become economically self-sufficient through paid employment. Using a qualitative approach, this study explored the experiences of 15 African American women as they left welfare to determine the extent to which they were developing economic self-sufficiency through labour force participation. It also sought the views of employers about former welfare recipients’ chances of achieving economic independence through paid work. The study found three barriers to economic progress:

  1. lack of opportunities for education and training
  2. lack of opportunities for career progression due to poor access to in-house training, mentoring and coaching and unavailability of well-paid jobs for low-skilled former claimants
  3. personal handicaps such as a history of family dependency, fear of change, and lack of social and financial capital.
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