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

Grey new world: Europe on the road to gerontocracy?

A.L. Bovenberg

CESifo Economic Studies, vol. 58, 2008, p. 55-72

Population ageing demands major adjustments in the way that society organises work and public income support over the life course. This can be politically difficult in democracies because changes may be resisted by older voters. In order to avoid the emergence of a large inactive class of older politically powerful citizens dependent on state pensions, governments should: 1) link the retirement age to longevity; 2) encourage labour market flexibility to allow for phased retirement; and 3) establish robust disability insurance schemes for older workers. Population ageing can also be combated by various measures to encourage childbearing, such as linking retirement benefits and child benefits to fertility.

Men taking up career leave: an opportunity for a better work and family life balance?

J. Vandeweyer and I. Glorieux

Social Policy Journal, vol. 37, 2008, p. 271-294

In Belgium employees have a legal right to reduce their working hours or take a complete career break for a specific period, during which a state allowance is paid covering, in part, the loss of earnings. These rights can be exercised by all employees who have worked for the same employer for at least a year, and can be claimed at any time in the life course. This article explores the extent to which career break legislation and rights to reduced working hours have succeeded in encouraging a different balance between work and family life among men.

Social democracy inside out: partisanship and labor market policy in industrialized democracies

D. Rueda

Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007

The analysis in this book disputes entrenched interpretations of the comparative political economy of industrialized democracies. It questions, in particular, the widely-held assumption that social democratic governments will defend the interests of labour. The evidence shows that labour has become split into two clearly differentiated constituencies: those with secure employment (insiders) and those without (outsiders). The book focuses on three policy areas: employment protection (representing the main concern of insiders), and active and passive labour market policies (the main concern of outsiders). The main thrust of the argument is that the goals of social democratic parties are often best served by pursuing policies that benefit only insiders. The implication of the book's insider-outsider model is that social democratic government is associated with higher levels of employment protection legislation but not with labour market policy. The book also argues that there are factors which can reduce insider-outsider differences and weaken their influence on social democratic governments. The book provides an analysis of surveys and macrodata, and a detailed comparison of three case-studies: Spain, the UK and the Netherlands.

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