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

The compliance challenge: implications for social security in the People's Republic of China

G. Ramia, G. Davies and C. Nyland

International Social Security Review, vol. 61, Jan.-Mar. 2008, p. 1-19

China faces major challenges in ensuring compliance with its social security regime at a time of huge social and economic change, in the shape of mass rural-to-urban migration, continuing industry ownership restructuring and privatisation, population ageing, the recent official recognition of unemployment, and the extension of social security rights to new population groups. In the context of these upheavals, it is imperative to increase the coverage of the social security system and to persuade firms to pay their social insurance contributions. The authors recommend the adoption of a social democratic approach as being most likely to produce improved compliance.

Food assistance programs and outcomes in the context of welfare reform

S.K. Huffman and H.H. Jensen

Social Science Quarterly, vol. 89, 2008, p.95-115

As a result of reforms to the US federal welfare system, the Food Stamp Program (FSP) has become one of the major safety-net programmes for low-income households. The FSP is designed to help poor households obtain a nutritionally adequate diet and avoid hunger. This study employs a structural model and data from the Survey of Program Dynamics to examine closely the effects of household characteristics and programme parameters on labour force and FSP participation choices, and on food insecurity status. The analysis shows that an increase in food stamp benefits increases FSP participation, showing that, among low-income households, programme parameters affect FSP participation. However, neither participation in FSP nor the size of the FSP benefit reduced the probability of the household being food insecure.

Welfare reform and asset accumulation: asset limit changes, financial assets and vehicle ownership

Y. Nam

Social Science Quarterly, vol. 89, 2008, p. 133-154

Low levels of asset accumulation among low-income households in the USA have been attributed, at least partially, to asset tests in public assistance programmes. These require households to keep their financial and vehicle assets below limits set by federal or state governments in order to qualify for benefits and so create a strong disincentive to saving. In recognition of this problem, federal and state governments have substantially relaxed asset limits over the past two decades. This study investigates whether that liberalisation in asset tests has stimulated saving and vehicle acquisition among the target population of likely welfare recipients using household data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics and state-level data. Results suggest that increased asset limits may have successfully encouraged saving among the target population. The earlier a state raised its asset limit, the more likely welfare recipients were to accumulate financial assets and possess bank accounts.

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