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

Analysing the welfare state in Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovenia: an ideal-typical perspective

C. Aspalter, K. Jinsoo and P. Sojeung

Social Policy and Administration, vol. 43, 2009, p. 170-185

This article re-examines the social security systems of Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovenia, focusing on old age pension and healthcare provision. It concludes that the four countries have reverted to their historical and cultural roots in the Austro-Hungarian Empire before the imposition of state socialism in Soviet times. Over the past 20 years, they have replaced the socialist system of employment-based social services and benefits with Bismarckian-type social insurance schemes.

Croatian social policy: the legacies of war, state-building and late Europeanization

P. Stubbs and S. Zrinscak

Social Policy and Administration, vol. 43, 2009, p. 121-135

This article first discusses the literature on post-Communist social policy in transition, addressing mainly developments in Central Europe. It then focuses on welfare arrangements in Croatia, identifying two phases: 1) the welfare regime during war, isolationism and a kind of authoritarian nationalism in the 1990s and 2) the position during the process of democratisation and orientation towards the European Union that occurred in the new millennium. A final section addresses Croatia as a bridge between the study of Central European social policy and social policies in South East Europe.

How does economic globalisation affect the welfare state? Focusing on the mediating effect of welfare regimes

T.K. Kim and K. Zurlo

International Journal of Social Welfare, vol. 18, 2009, p. 130-141

In recent years the impact of economic globalisation on the welfare state has been much debated. This article contributes to the discussion by demonstrating that the effect of globalisation on the welfare state can vary according to regime type. The authors used mixed-effect model analysis to show that welfare state spending in social democratic regimes is more sensitive to the pressures of economic globalisation than it is in liberal and conservative regimes. Globalisation has a more significant negative impact on welfare state spending in social democratic regimes than in either liberal or conservative regimes.

The 'human' touch: voluntary organisations as rescuers of social policy?

K. Villadsen

Public Management Review, vol. 11, 2009, p. 217-234

This article critically discusses the depiction of voluntary and community groups as a kind of rescue squad for welfare states that are seen as ineffective at best or stifling at worst. In particular it examines the myth that voluntary and local organisations are permeated by a different rationality that enables their staff to act as real humans rather than as professionals dealing with clients. The author uses a case study of a Danish treatment service for drug addicts to show that forms of practice in social services are not determined by their location in the public or voluntary sector so much as by their permeation by a specific regime of practice, which rests on a particular form of professional rationality.

Hybridization instead of clustering: transformation processes of welfare policies in Central and Eastern Europe

B. Hacker

Social Policy and Administration, vol. 43, 2009, p. 152-169

To date, the welfare systems of the ten Central and East European states which joined the European Union in 2004 and 2007 have not been analysed in depth. Often their social policy arrangements are regarded in an undifferentiated and simplified way as a monolithic bloc of one single Central and East European type of welfare state. This article addresses this gap by examining similarities and differences in the welfare regimes of these ten countries, focusing on the old-age pension, healthcare provision, and social protection in case of unemployment.

Institutions, structures and poverty: a comparative study of 16 countries, 1980-2000

O. Backman

European Sociological Review, vol. 25, 2009, p. 251-164

A number of studies have shown that welfare state arrangements have a profound impact on financial poverty in western countries. This study attempts to explain variations of poverty rates over time in different countries in terms of social insurance indicators and structural/sociodemographic factors. The analyses suggest that in the 1980s, poverty rates were held back primarily by increased female labour force participation and reduced family size. In the 1990s, poverty rates rose due to welfare state retrenchment, primarily in the domain of unemployment insurance.

Making the implicit explicit: gender influences on social spending in twelve industrialized democracies, 1980-99

C. Bolzendahl

Social Politics, vol. 16, 2009, p.40-81

Research shows that gender matters for welfare state development. However, few studies have tested the impact of gender-relevant influences compared to other widely accepted influences. This study seeks to address this gap in our knowledge. Its results suggest that large scale changes in gender relations and gender equality have a significant impact on levels of social spending cross-nationally and over time. They also show that not all gender relevant influences operate equally, and several measures such as women's enrolment in higher education, fertility and divorce rates have little impact on social spending. There is strong evidence that women's labour force participation and the presence of women in the legislature lead to greater social outlays by governments.

National welfare states and European integration: in search of a 'virtuous nesting'

M. Ferrera

Journal of Common Market Studies, vol. 47, 2009, p. 219-233

The two most significant achievements of 20th century Europe were the creation on the European Union and of national welfare states. However tensions are emerging because the guiding logics of the two institutions are inherently different. The welfare state rests on a logic of 'closure' and assumes the existence of a clearly demarcated and cohesive community of beneficiaries. European integration is guided by a logic of 'opening' and aims to foster free movement and root out discrimination. This article explores how nation-based welfare states can be accommodated within an increasingly economically integrated Europe. It argues that welfare states must be prepared to transfer some of their functions to transnational and supranational institutions.

Neo-liberalism by decay? The evolution of the Czech welfare state

S. Saxonberg and T. Sirovatka

Social Policy and Administration, vol. 43, 2009, p. 186-203

This review of Czech welfare policies shows that the country has a mixed system, with some elements of the conservative Bismarckian model inherited from the pre-war period, modified by some universalist measures introduced by the communists and then further modified by post-communist governments, which to some extent followed the protest avoidance strategy of providing generous targeted measures that gain the support of some weak groups and discourage them from rebelling. These targeted policies differed from traditional liberal residualist policies in that they were generous enough to be effective in fighting poverty. However the Czech welfare state is now moving in a more liberal, residualist direction - not because of conscious steps, but rather through decay. This decay is partly taking place because governments do not increase benefit levels in line with rising incomes, but they are also introducing a series of partial reforms which are moving the country slowly in a more market-liberal direction.

The welfare state and globalisation: down and out or too tough to die?

F. Koster

International Journal of Social Welfare, vol. 18, 2009, p. 153-162

Politicians and researchers often claim that globalisation poses a threat to the welfare state. This article sets out to test the validity of this claim through a review of empirical research in the field. The analysis supports the view that economic openness does not necessarily endanger welfare states, in spite of claims to the contrary by politicians.

Welfare state developments in the Russian Federation: oil-led social policy and 'the Russian miracle'

A. Cerami

Social Policy and Administration, vol. 43, 2009, p. 103-120

Social policy developments in the Russian Federation have been driven by a number of endogenous and exogenous factors. Endogenous factors include the presence of few veto points in the political arena due to the super-presidential character of the system, the lack of a well-structured system of interest representation, and the presence of informality in the welfare state organisation as a result of the inherited communist system of social protection. The main exogenous factor is the economic boom fuelled by rising oil and gas prices in the global market. Income from oil exports has provided more resources for social protection, but improvements will only be sustainable if prices remain high.

Welfare state, gender and reconciliation of work and family in Poland: policy developments and practice in a new EU member

A. Plomien

Social Policy and Administration, vol. 43, 2009, p. 136-151

This article analyses work and family policies in Poland and their implications for the gendered division of labour. Examination of childcare services, maternity and parental leave, and parent-friendly organisation of work reveals that women face significant obstacles to entering paid employment and men have few incentives to become more involved in family life and care. Assessed against EU standards in this area, Poland's performance is mixed. It is far from achieving the Barcelona targets for provision of childcare services, it complies with EU regulations on maternity and parental leave arrangements, and lags behind employment goals and parent-friendly organisation of work.

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