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

The end of welfare as we know it? Durable attitudes in a changing information environment

J.J. Dyck and L.S. Hussey

Public Opinion Quarterly, vol. 72, 2008, p. 589-618

Historically, white Americans have opposed various forms of social welfare spending because they have perceived the programmes as benefiting undeserving and lazy black Americans. The main explanation offered for this phenomenon has been media coverage which has represented the welfare system as a bad social programme benefiting irresponsible and lazy blacks. Since the welfare reform introduced in 1996 by President Clinton, media coverage has been more positive. However, despite this change in the information environment, this paper presents evidence that stereotypes about blacks' work ethic continue to predict opposition to welfare spending among whites just as strongly as they did prior to the welfare reform of 1996.

Europe enlarged: a handbook of education, labour and welfare regimes in Central and Eastern Europe

I. Kogan, M. Gebel and C. Noelke (editors)

Bristol: Policy Press, 2008

The expansion of the European Union (EU) has put an end to the old East-West division of Europe. At the same time it has increased the cultural heterogeneity, social disparities and economic imbalances within the EU, exemplified in the lower living standards and higher unemployment rates in some of the new member states. The book describes the education systems, labour markets and welfare production regimes in the 10 new Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) countries. In three comparative chapters, discussing each of these domains in turn, the editors provide a set of theory-driven, comprehensive and informative indicators that allow comparisons and rankings within the new EU member states. Ten country-specific chapters follow, each written by experts from those countries: Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. These chapters provide detailed information on each country's education and training systems, labour market structure and regulations, and its provision of formal and informal welfare support. An important component of each country chapter is the explanation of the historical background and the specific national conditions which influenced the institutional choices in the transitional years.

Explaining Dutch fertility rates in a comparative European perspective: the role of economy, social policy and culture

A.J. Rijken and T. Knijn

European Societies, vol.10, 2008, p. 763-786

The Netherlands lacks good social policies aimed at helping parents combine work and care but nevertheless has a relatively high fertility rate. Part of the explanation of high Dutch fertility rates rests in the ready availability of part time jobs for women. High male wage rates and good economic prospects mean that Dutch families can afford several children when men work full time and women work part time. Direct or indirect state subsidies aimed at helping parents with the costs of bringing up a family are therefore not necessary to encourage high fertility rates.

New perspectives on work and employment

A. de Bruin, A. Dupuis and C. Wetzels (guest editors)

Journal of Interdisciplinary Economics, vol. 19, 2008, p. 311-442

This special issue on work and employment includes articles on the minimum wage, trade union learning representative initiatives in the UK and New Zealand, employer-led sectoral approaches to skills training, apprenticeship training in Australia, and connections between teleworking and work-life balance.

Party politics and social welfare: comparing Christian and Social Democracy in Austria, Germany and the Netherlands

M. Seeleib-Kaiser, S. van Dyk and M. Roggenkamp

Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 2008

Christian and Social Democracies have been the driving force behind welfare state developments post-WWII. This book investigates whether continued party differences have contributed significantly to the design of social welfare in three conservative welfare states, Austria, Germany and the Netherlands, since the mid-1970s. Rather than assuming continued differences or convergence between parties, the primary focus is to empirically analyze party positions with regard to employment and labour market policies, social security, and family policies as well as the implemented policies themselves. The analysis demonstrates how changed interpretative patterns have led to a programmatic convergence amongst Christian Democrats and Social Democrats, largely resulting in a liberal-communitarian approach guiding the development of social welfare policies

Perceived efficacy and citizens' attitudes to welfare reform

I. Calzada and E. del Pino

International Review of Administrative Sciences, vol. 74, 2008, p. 555-574

This research tests the connection between citizens' critical views of the efficacy of the welfare state and their support for reform, using data from a Spanish national survey carried out in 2005. Most citizens attributed the inefficacy of welfare services to lack of resources and seemed inclined to support increased public investment rather than other alternatives such as privatisation.

Retrenching or renovating the Australian welfare state: the paradox of the Howard government's neo-liberalism

P. Mendes

International Journal of Social Welfare, vol. 18, 2009, p. 102-110

In early 1996 the Liberal-National Coalition government led by John Howard came to power in Australia. By 2007 the Howard government had won four successive elections and was committed to a neo-liberal agenda based on reducing social expenditure and redirecting responsibility for the provision of welfare services to the disadvantaged from the state to business, charities and community groups, private individuals and families. Using Pierson's analytical framework, this paper demonstrates that the Howard governments substantially reshaped the structures of income support for poor and disadvantaged people in Australian society, but without reducing overall social expenditure. Some disadvantaged groups, such as the elderly and low-income families, benefited from increased social spending, particularly via the family payments system. However, other groups, such as the disabled and lone parents, received harsh and punitive treatment.

The rise of a 'social development' agenda in New Zealand

N. Lunt

International Journal of Social Welfare, vol. 18, 2009, p. 3-12

Social development has been advanced in New Zealand since the late 1990s as a policy framework that will reclaim social welfare provision from neo-liberalism. The social development framework is investment-oriented and consists of commitments around economic development, human capital development, family capacity development and a change in the role of the state, including a redefinition of its responsibilities. This article identifies continuities and contrasts with the previous neo-liberal framework of minimal social policy, and begins the process of critically interrogating the potential citizenship implications of social development.

Risk discourse and politics: restructuring welfare in Hong Kong

R.K.H. Chan

Critical Social Policy, vol.29, 2009, p. 24-52

The financial crisis of 1997 awoke the Hong Kong government and people to the reality of economic, social and political risks, after 25 years of uninterrupted growth and prosperity. The government, with the support of the middle classes, responded by replacing the old needs-led social policies with new set of strategies which support rationalisation of resources, targeting of assistance and greater personal responsibility. The target groups qualifying for social assistance are to be regulated, controlled, and nurtured until they become independent and self-reliant.

Towards productive welfare? A comparative analysis of 23 OECD countries

J. Hudson and S. Kuhner

Journal of European Social Policy, vol.19, 2009, p.34-46

This article uses fuzzy set ideal type analysis applied to 23 welfare state regimes over three time points (1994, 1998 and 2004) to develop a classification of welfare state types that encompasses both the protective and productive dimensions of social policy. This classification is then used to test the hypothesis that welfare states have shifted away from traditional protective functions towards a model of 'productive welfare', characterised by a greater emphasis on investment in social capital.

Understanding global social policy

N. Yeates (editor)

Bristol: Policy Press, 2008

As a field of study, global social policy has grown in strength and remit over the last decade and offers a fresh set of perspectives on contemporary debates within social policy. This book is the first student-aimed textbook that comprehensively engages with this field of study, examining the key theoretical and policy debates and issues. Written by an international team of leading social policy analysts, it examines the impact of the prefix 'global' on the ways in which social policy as a field of study is constructed and explores how the globalising strategies of state and non-state actors intersect with social policy concerns, evaluating their impacts upon social welfare.

Welfare state transformations: comparative perspectives

M. Seeleib-Kaiser (editor)

Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008

This edited volume provides fresh empirical evidence of far reaching transformations of the welfare state globally that have changed the boundaries of the 'public' and 'private domains within the mixed economies of welfare. By investigating the various modes of policy intervention, such as financing and the provision and regulation of social policy, it provides a nuanced account of reforms in the past decade. In addition it provides cross-sectional analyses of key policy areas such as old-age income security, unemployment insurance, incapacity benefits and health care.

Welfare states in East Central Europe, 1919-2004

T. Inglot

Cambridge: CUP, 2008

The book is a comparative-historical study of welfare states in the former communist region of East Central Europe. It analyzes almost one hundred years of expansion of social insurance programmes across different political regimes and places these programmes in a larger political and socioeconomic context, which includes the most recent developments since the advent of democracy. The book argues that despite apparent similarities the welfare states of East Central Europe, Czechoslovakia (Czech Republic and Slovakia since 1993), Poland, and Hungary have pursued distinct historical paths of development and change. It examines the highly unusual evolution of these welfare states in detail, tracing alternating periods of growth and retrenchment/reform, which were linked to political and economic crises under communist rule. It also examines the continued influence of history over the politics and policies of the social safety nets in Eastern Europe.

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