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

Does comprehensive education work for the long-term unemployed?

A. Stenberg and O. Westerlund

Labour Economics, vol.12, 2008, p. 54-67

This paper evaluates the impact of adult education on the earnings of long-term unemployed people, using a Swedish sample. Estimates with propensity score matching indicate that more than one semester of study results in substantial increases in post programme annual earnings for both males and females. Rough calculations suggest that the social benefits of offering access to adult education surpass the costs within five to seven years.

Labour market mobility and workers' skills in a comparative perspective: exploring the role of unemployment insurance benefits

O. Sjöberg

International Journal of Social Welfare, vol.17, 2008, p. 74-83

This article argues for efficiency gains derived from relatively generous unemployment benefits. Firstly, generous unemployment benefits are seen as reducing the risks associated with changing jobs and/or career. Secondly, they are seen as favouring increases in workers' skill levels, both by functioning as a form of insurance for workers' investments in acquiring skills that are not easily transferable between employers and by facilitating the accumulation of skills that are developed through experience with different employers. These arguments are supported by data, covering 14 countries, from the Eurobarometer survey.

Market forces for the unemployed? Training vouchers in Germany and the USA

L. Hipp and M.E. Warner

Social Policy and Administration, vol.42, 2008, p. 77-101

Germany and the USA have recently introduced training vouchers for unemployed persons. In the USA, the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 requires local employment services to use Individual Training Accounts to provide training for unemployed persons. In Germany training vouchers were introduced as part of the Hartz reforms in 2003. The voucher schemes are claimed to produce benefits of increased efficiency and competition among training providers, and enhanced choice for clients. However, this evaluation shows that training vouchers do not increase efficiency or choice and may undermine the ability of governments to achieve social goals.

The political logic of labour market reforms and popular images of target groups

C.A. Larsen

Journal of European Social Policy, vol. 18, 2008, p. 50-63

Even though active labour market policies introduced in OECD and EU countries since the mid-1990s exhibit large cross-national variations, all examples share two common characteristics. First, in most countries the group first exposed to the harsh new measures was young people receiving social assistance. Secondly, as the target group for the new active labour market policies was expanded to include ordinary unemployed people, most countries made exceptions for those aged over 50. This article argues, using an Australian sample, that this striking policy convergence has to do with public perception of the target groups.

Welfare reform and family expenditures: how are single mothers adapting to the new welfare and work regime?

N. Kaushal, Q. Gao and J. Waldfogel

Social Service Review, vol. 81, 2007, p. 369-396

This paper studies the association between welfare reform in the US and the expenditure patterns of poor single mother families. The findings suggest that welfare reform is not associated with any statistically significant change in total expenditure in families headed by poorly educated single mothers. However, patterns of expenditure changed. Welfare reform is associated with increased spending on items that facilitate paid work, such as transportation, adult clothing and footwear. However it is not associated with changes in expenditure on childcare or educational activities, indicating that welfare reform has not enabled low-income families to catch up with more advantaged families in these areas.

When welfare worked: a community approach to welfare reform

M.B. Michaux

Polity, vol.40, 2008, p. 1-23

The increased freedom from rules and regulations allowed under the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act 1996 created a unique opportunity to overcome barriers to collaborative working among non-governmental organisations and public welfare agencies. The state of Oregon took the opportunity seriously and pursued a strategy for welfare reform that enhanced rather than frustrated community partnerships and attempted real coordination between normally estranged, or at least separate, public agencies and local groups. Between 1995 and 2001 Oregon provided a model for comprehensive welfare reform based on:

  1. a coherent strategy of community involvement
  2. flexibility in regulation in implementing welfare reform
  3. a commitment to excellent leadership.

This resulted in collaborative partnerships that achieved real resource sharing and staff integration through a commitment to consensus building among multiple stakeholders.

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