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Welfare Reform on the Web (June 2008): Welfare state - overseas

Conditional punishment: a comparative analysis of the electoral consequences of welfare state retrenchment in OECD nations, 1980-2003

K. Armingeon and N. Giger

West European Politics, vol.31, 2008, p. 558-580

This paper explores the question of whether governing parties which cut back welfare provision were punished by voters at the next election. It analyses election results and social policy reforms in 18 OECD democracies from 1980 to 2003. Results show that voters do not systematically punish governments which have cut welfare entitlements. Instead, the voters' response has depended on whether governments could introduce cuts gradually over a long period, and whether welfare retrenchment was made an election issue by the media or other political parties. If welfare cuts do not become an election issue, and if retrenchment can be carried out in small steps over an extended period of time, governments may considerably reduce welfare provision without fear of major electoral consequences.

Governance and participation in local welfare: the case of the Italian Piani di Zona

L. Bifulco and L. Centemeri

Social Policy and Administration, vol. 42, 2008, p. 211-227

Following the reform introduced in 2000, the design and management of Italian social services involve different political-administrative responsibility levels, mainly regional and municipal. In order to design social policies, municipalities have to participate in new inter-municipal groupings called Piani di Zona (Area Plans). The law also requires the involvement of local third sector organisations and citizens. This article explores how this complex new system has led local authorities to develop new instruments and institutions of governance. It seeks to examine whether and how these new instruments of governance promote the participation of local communities in the creation of the regional system of social service provision, using four case studies from the Region of Lombardy and the Region of Campania.

Health inequalities according to educational level in different welfare regimes: a comparison of 23 European countries

T.A. Eikemo and others

Sociology of Health and Illness, vol. 30, 2008, p. 565-582

This study examines whether the magnitude of socioeconomic inequalities (assessed using the proxy measure of educational level) in self-assessed health varies by welfare regime using data from the first and second wave of the European Social Survey. Results show a clear pattern linking magnitudes of health inequalities to features of European welfare regimes:

  • Southern European welfare regimes had the largest health inequalities, while Bismarckian regimes tended to demonstrate the smallest
  • Although other welfare regimes ranked relatively close to each other, the Scandinavian regimes were placed less favourably than the Anglo-Saxon or the East European.

Promoting American families: the role of State legislation

M.M.O. Seipel and J. Brown

Families in Society, vol.89, 2008, p. 174-182

Today's American families are a mix of traditional two-parent families, single parent households, remarried families and cohabiting couples. In their various forms, families are still relevant to the well-being of individuals and society, but there are no federal government agencies devoted to their support. Even at the State level, there is limited commitment to strengthening the family by enacting policies that support its functioning.

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