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Welfare Reform on the Web (February 2009): Social security - overseas

Do welfare to work initiatives work? Evidence from an activation programme targeted at social assistance recipients in Norway

M. Ronsen and T. Skardhamar

Journal of European Social Policy, vol. 19, 2009, p. 61-77

In Norway, the emphasis on welfare-to-work policies resulted in a comprehensive Action Plan to Combat Poverty launched in 2003. Central to the Plan was a broad spectrum of rehabilitation and activation measures directed at people who relied on social assistance for most of their income. This involved close co-operation between the National Employment Service and the municipality based Social Welfare System. This study carried out in 2004 investigated the short-term impact of the programme on participants. Results show that the programme had no significant impact on immigrants and single mothers, and may even have been counter-productive for young people. However, a fairly large positive effect was found among long-term social assistance recipients.

The legal construction of the social security system in the Republic of Kosovo

M. Lourdes Arastey Sahun and P. Rivas Vallejo

International Social Security Review, vol. 62, Jan.-Mar. 2009, p. 65-89

The territory of Kosovo declared independence from Serbia on 17th February 2008. It now faces the challenge of creating a social security system that will provide basic protection for a significantly impoverished population with high levels of unemployment. The combination of a system of private individual accounts coexisting with a weak universal protection mechanism provided a respite in which new social security legislation was drafted. The nascent social security system attempts to accommodate the parameters of ILO Convention no. 102 and the European Social Security Convention. However the new legislation will also be influenced by the current unstable economic situation and the deficit in the treasury of the Kosovo government as well as by the opinion of the international presence in the country, the preparatory works, and those responsible for the withdrawal of the United Nations Mission legal framework reference.

Lone mothers, workfare and precarious employment: time for a Canadian Basic Income?

P.M. Evans

International Social Security Review, vol. 62, Jan.-Mar. 2009, p. 45-63

'Workfare is not about creating jobs for people who don't have them; it is about creating workers for jobs that nobody wants'. One of the prime targets of workfare programmes is lone mothers claiming social assistance. This article uses a study of social assistance in Ontario to show the impact of workfare programmes on single mothers' lives. Participants in the study found the Ontario Works programme a hindrance not a help. Women who were job ready and eager to work found that workfare was 'not busy in the right places' whereas those who were not ready for employment described it as 'like a dagger to your throat'. The programme offered inadequate incomes, minimal training opportunities, and frequent and intrusive scrutiny of participants. The article concludes with a discussion of the potential strengths and limitations of Basic Income approaches as an alternative to workfare for achieving economic security for lone mothers.

Normalizing active employment policies in the European Union: the Danish case

P. Triantafillou

European Societies, vol.10, 2008, p. 689-710

Activation of the unemployed is not only an issue for national employment policies but also a key feature of the European Employment Strategy (EES) launched in 1997. Since the early 1990s, well before the inception of the EES, successive Danish governments have consistently identified benefits dependency and inadequate activation of the unemployed as the key problems of the labour market. The Danish activation approach was a source of inspiration for the EES, but the EES has also sustained and promoted a very particular understanding of the main problems with the labour market and what types of interventions may be used to tackle these problems. Since 1998 the EES has contributed to reaffirming that inadequate activation of the unemployed is the main problem with the labour market through a number of soft governing mechanisms, such as the national benchmarking analyses that apparently provide hard evidence of the success of the Danish activation model in sustaining high levels of employment.

Towards a European social model? Trends in social insurance among EU countries 1980-2000

I. Montanari, K. Nelson and J. Palme

European Societies, vol.10, 2008, p. 787-810

This paper examines key aspects of the development of main social insurance programmes in 14 EU member states during the period 1980-2000. It looks for significant signs of convergence in the income replacement rates of social insurance programmes and finds none. Results indicate divergence rather than convergence in social insurance replacement rates. It also examines broader development trends in social insurance systems and finds no evidence of the emergence of a common European Social Model in the area of social insurance.

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