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Welfare Reform on the Web (January 2009): Welfare state - overseas

Fairness, responsibility and welfare

M. Fleurbaey

Oxford: OUP, 2008

This book develops a theory of fairness incorporating a concern for personal responsibility, opportunities and freedom. With a critical perspective, it makes accessible the recent developments in economics and philosophy that define social justice in terms of equal opportunities. It is often thought that responsibility is a complex notion, but this monograph proposes a simple analytical framework that makes it possible to disentangle the different concepts of fairness that deal with neutralizing inequalities for which the individuals are not held responsible, rewarding their effort, respecting their choices, or staying neutral with respect to their responsibility sphere. The theory is illustrated through the examination of applied policy issues such as: income redistribution when individuals may be held responsible for their choices of labour supply or education; social and private insurance when individuals may be held responsible for their risky lifestyle; second chance policies; and the measurement of inequality of opportunities and social mobility.

Handbook of social policy. 2nd ed.

J. Midgley and M. Livermore (editors)

London: Sage, 2008

The book is primarily concerned with social policy in the United States and with the complex system of services and programmes provided by federal, state, and county governments. The book defines social policy, examines the history of social policy, discusses social services, explores the political economy of social policy, views American social policy in an international context, and speculates on its future. The second edition:

  • Provides up-to-date policies and references to include the latest information on social policy
  • Offers a state of the art account of American social policy at the beginning of the 21st century
  • Presents contributions, including more case studies and examples, from leading experts in their respective areas that challenge the norm in thinking about social welfare policy
  • Focuses more attention on diverse populations and international issues
  • Includes added content to reflect the areas that have received increased attention such as advocacy, policy practice, immigration issues, discrimination, and more

The life-course perspective and social policies: an overview of the issues

A.L. Bovenberg

CESifo Economic Studies, vol.54, 2008, p.593-641

Workers are increasingly combining a career in the formal labour market with family obligations. They move between periods of full-time work and periods of voluntary absence from the labour market to enjoy leisure, educate themselves, or care for children or elderly relatives. Social protection systems need to adapt to cope with the new risks associated with these developments. It is argued that governments need to: raise retirement ages in line with increased longevity; encourage flexible working practices; extend parental leave arrangements and in-work benefits for parents; replace pay-as-you-go pensions with funded schemes; and base social security on mandatory contributions to individual social insurance accounts.

The 'neoliberal turn' and the New Social Policy in Latin America: how neoliberal, how new?

M. Molyneux

Development and Change, Vol.39, 2008, p.775-797

The Latin American countries have been engaged in social sector reform since the mid 1970s. The term 'neoliberal' is widely used to describe the policy shifts that have occurred in recent decades, with a common assumption that states have been 'hollowed out' and left with little functional power. It is also often said that neoliberalism has eviscerated political life. This article contributes to the ongoing debate about the different modalities, adaptations and forms of resistance to the global diffusion of structural reform. It outlines the systems of social welfare prevalent in Latin America prior to the reforms and then examines the New Social Policy, focusing on three issues:

  • the periodisation of neoliberalism
  • the role of the state
  • the place of politics in the neoliberal reform agenda

New developments in Latin America's social policy

A. Barrientos, J. Gideon and M. Molyneux

Development and Change, Vol.39, 2008, p.759-774

This essay identifies and discusses the principal trends in social policy in Latin America since the 1980s. During the 1990s, following an acute economic crisis in the 1980s, social policy reform focused on the restructuring of social insurance institutions, replacing pay-as-you-go insurance funds with individual savings accounts. The 1990s also saw the emergence of national government anti-poverty programmes, including conditional cash transfer programmes focused on human development, integrated anti-poverty programmes and social guarantees. These guarantee basic levels of service provision to all citizens.

Social and family policies in Italy: not totally frozen but far from structural reforms

M. Naldini and C. Saraceno

Social Policy and Administration, vol.42, 2008, p. 733-748

Three issues concerning the family have progressively taken centre stage in the Italian social and family policy debate since the 1990s: low fertility, the cost of rearing children, and care of the frail elderly. However, policies at the practical level have remained largely stagnant. At the same time the constitutional reform of 2001 devolved responsibility for developing policies on social care and social assistance to the regions, creating new problems of governance. In the face of inadequate policies, individuals and families have continued to rely on family solidarity for social protection, supplemented by care provided by migrant labour.

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