Click here to skip to content

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

Active labour market policy and unemployment scarring: a ten year Swedish panel study

M. Strandh and M. Nordlund

Journal of Social Policy, vol.37, 2008, p. 357-382

Active labour market policy programmes (ALMPs) are designed to maintain human capital by activating the unemployed, keeping their skills up to date through training, or retraining them to work in expanding sectors of the economy. This article investigates the long-term impact of participation in active labour market programmes in Sweden. ALMP measures directed towards maintaining human capital through subsidised employment and measures directed at retraining are analysed separately. Results suggest that ALMP training produced long-term advantages for participants in the shape of greater competitiveness in the labour market. Subsidised employment produced immediate positive effects, but longer term impacts were doubtful.

Dual incentives and dual asset building: policy implications of the Hutubi Rural Social Security Loan Programme in China

B. Guo and others

Journal of Social Policy, vol. 37, 2008, p. 453-470

The Hutubi Rural Social Security Loan programme is a policy innovation in a rural area of China, which loans savings in social security accounts back to peasants for them to buy assets for agricultural development, such as tools and livestock. Through analysis of administrative data, supplemented with interview data, this article explores how the loan mechanism was developed and its consequences for Hutubi rural social security and peasants.

Judging a book by its cover: did perceptions of the 1996 US welfare reforms affect public support for spending on the poor?

A. Hetling and M.L. McDermott

Journal of Social Policy, vol.37, 2008, p. 471-487

This article examines whether individuals' judgments of policy effectiveness contribute to their support for, or opposition to, government spending. Specifically, it examines the US welfare reform of 1996 and public reactions to it using a national survey conducted in 2001. Findings based on multinomial logistic regression analysis demonstrate that citizens who believe that the system is working well post reform are more likely to find post reform spending levels on anti-poverty programmes appropriate. This is true both in contrast to their other answer choices, spending levels are too high or too low, and in contrast to the answers of the other two analytical groups: those who are unaware of the reforms, and those who believe the system works poorly.

The likelihood of a basic income in Germany

M. Opielka

International Social Security Review, vol. 61, no.3, 2008, p. 73-94

This article discusses whether the likelihood of Germany introducing an unconditional basic income guaranteed for all citizens irrespective of labour market participation has increased in recent years. Germany's social policy has been shaped by a dual focus on social insurance for wage earners at the national and corporate level and poverty relief through social assistance at the local level. In recent years the basic income guarantee debate has been reignited by the 2003 'Red-Green' Federal Government's 'Agenda 2010' and the Hartz IV reform which amalgamated unemployment benefits funded by central government with social assistance funded by local government to form a centrally funded 'Unemployment Pay II' or 'social benefit'. This article analyses the new situation and discusses the possibilities of introducing a guaranteed, unconditional basic income using the examples of the 'basic income guarantee' and the 'solidarity citizen's income'.

'Marriage-like relationships' and social security in Australia

M. Voyce

Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law, vol. 30, 2008, p. 17-30

This article examines the issue of social security entitlements in relation to cohabitation in the Australian context. It focuses on cases where couples without a sexual relationship nevertheless share a home and care for each other. Such 'carers', as well as 'life-long friends' and 'divorcees and ex-partners' living together could have their benefits and allowances reduced under current welfare law in Australia since their relationship could be seen as marriage-like.

Not so distant cousins: family benefits in the United Kingdom and Australia

H. Hodgson and R. Boden

International Social Security Review, vol. 61, no.3, 2008, p. 29-46

Recent trends among Western neo-liberal governments have shown a move towards integration of their tax and benefit systems. The UK, Australia, Canada and the US have all introduced some measure of integration and have all experienced some measure of difficulty with implementation. This article uses family financial support mechanisms to illustrate a number of generic problems with implementation and describes UK and Australian attempts to address these. While family benefits payable in the UK and Australia appear on the surface to be very similar, there are important design differences, largely driven by the different policy directions of the incumbent governments. In Australia, the current discourse is one of 'choice'. Family benefits are targeted at middle-income families and are labelled as tax benefits not welfare. 'Welfare to work' policies are not prioritised, although means testing is used as a targeting technique. In the UK family benefits are overtly used as a labour activation tool rather than as income supplementation through a work test which gives more generous payments to those working more than 16 hours a week than to the jobless.

The recent evolution of social security coverage in Brazil

G. Ansiliero and L.H. Paiva

International Social Security Review, vol. 61, no.3, 2008, p. 1-28

This article discusses the evolution of social security coverage in Brazil, focusing on factors that account for its recent behaviour in the period 1992-2006. Data for coverage of the employed population aged 16 to 59 and the elderly aged 60 or over are drawn from the National Household Sample Survey. Coverage of the elderly reached 80% in the mid-1990s and has stabilised since then. Coverage of employed workers deteriorated between 1992 and 2002, but has recovered since. Fewer self-employed workers in agriculture falling into the category of Special Insured Persons, whose contributions to the social security scheme are a percentage of marketed agricultural produce rather than wages, accounts for most of the deterioration. The economic recovery and an increase in new jobs in the formal economy account for most of the improvement in coverage between 2003 and 2006.

Size matters: targeting efficiency and poverty reduction effects of means-tested and universal child benefits in Russia

G. Notten and F. Gassmann

Journal of European Social Policy, vol.18, 2008, p. 260-274

Using the introduction of means-tested child benefits in Russia in 2000 as a case study, this article assesses the impact of a policy change from universal to means-tested child allowances in terms of targeting efficiency and poverty reduction. Data from the Russia Longitudinal Monitoring Survey from 2000 and 2004 are used to analyse the impact of the reforms and to simulate the effects of various means-tested and universal child benefit schemes. The analysis of targeting efficiency shows an improvement in overall coverage rates and evidence of better targeting on low-income households. Nevertheless both inclusion and exclusion errors are considerable. The impact of child benefits has been small throughout. Size matters most: only by increasing benefit levels considerably can substantial poverty reductions be achieved.

Who are the eligible non-recipients of child care subsidies?

C.M. Herbst

Children and Youth Services Review, vol. 30, 2008, p. 1037-1054

In the late-1990s the US Congress consolidated the fragmented child care subsidy system into a single block grant to states called the Child Care and Development Fund. The explicit goal of the new unified system is to help families make the transition from welfare to work and to keep employed families from becoming dependent on benefits. This paper provides the first detailed examination of eligible families who are not receiving child care subsidies, and uses this group to make comparisons to those receiving benefits. Using data from the 2002 National Survey of America's Families, it begins by simulating states' eligibility rules for 2001. It then presents simple descriptive statistics comparing economic, demographic and child care characteristics of eligible recipient and non-recipient families, followed by a formal multivariate analysis of these groups. Results suggest that differences between recipients and non-recipients are due to rationing by states, low parental awareness of benefits, and difficulties navigating the subsidy system.

Search Welfare Reform on the Web