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

Accountability to welfare service users: challenges and responses of service providers

T.T.F. Leung

British Journal of Social Work, vol. 38, 2008, p. 531-545

The Hong Kong welfare sector adopted New Public Management in the 1990s. Reform initiatives included increased use of contracting out, more emphasis on performance monitoring, and greater user involvement in service planning. Based on a study of user involvement in the welfare sector in Hong Kong, this paper argues that greater accountability to service users was resisted by providers, who saw it as a threat to professional autonomy and authority. Providers responded by redefining accountability to mean transmitting post hoc explanations of service-related decisions to users.

Asymmetric mutuality: user involvement as a government-voluntary sector relationship in Norway

T.A. Andreassen

Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, vol. 37, 2008, p. p.281-299

User involvement has been promoted in Norway and other Western countries as a measure to ensure more focused, efficient and client-oriented health and welfare services. User involvement in service planning and decision-making requires collective action by more or less formally organised groups of users, eg people with mental health problems or learning difficulties. In this area, user involvement needs to be understood as a specific kind of government-voluntary sector relationship. This article uses a combination of social movement perspectives and neo institutional perspectives to analyse the development of government-nonprofit relationships to enable user involvement in health and social welfare decision-making in postwar Norway.

The subsidiarization of social policies: actors, processes and impacts: some reflections on the Italian case from a European perspective

Y. Kazepov

European Societies, vol. 10, 2008, p. 247-273

Since the end of the 1970s, socio-demographic and socio-economic changes such as population ageing, low birth rates, increased family instability and economic restructuring have affected all industrialised countries and have undermined welfare institutions. They led to an explosion of need which contributed to fiscal crises within states and to a necessity for welfare reforms. These reforms, which occur in the context of severe budgetary constraints, are characterised by two major processes:

  1. a devolution of regulatory powers to the sub-national level
  2. a multiplication of actors involved in designing, managing and implementing social policies.

This paper tests the hypothesis that the impact of these processes varies according to the specificities of the regulatory frameworks at the national or sub-national levels, using Italy as a case study.

Welfare state regimes and differences in self-perceived health in Europe: a multilevel analysis

T.A. Eikemo

Social Science and Medicine, vol. 66, 2008, p. 2281-2295

This paper aims to examine and explain between-country differences in self-perceived health in Europe by undertaking a multilevel analysis of the European Social Survey (2002 and 2004). Results showed that nearly 90% of the variation of self-perceived general health outcomes was at individual level. Country-level welfare state characteristics accounted for around 10% of disparities in self-perceived health. Intra-country regional variation, however, was almost non-existent after controlling for individual and country-level variation. The key finding was that people in countries with Scandinavian and Anglo-Saxon welfare regimes enjoyed better self-perceived general health than those living under Southern and East European regimes.

Welfare state structures and the structure of welfare state support: attitudes towards social spending in Canada, 1993-2000

J.S. Matthews and L. Erickson

European Journal of Political Research, vol. 47, 2008, p. 411-435

The authors set out to explore the impact of class on support for social spending on both universal and means-tested programmes. They also take into account the impact of variables largely ignored in previous research: the symbolic values and beliefs elicited by different types of social welfare programmes. It is argued that differences in levels of support for means-tested programmes are not just affected by material (class) interests, but are also shaped by orientations to redistribution and the capitalist system. Data for the analysis are drawn from the Canadian election studies of 1993, 1997 and 2000.

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