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

Digging their own graves: unexpected consequences of institutional design and welfare state changes

S. Asiskovich

Social Policy and Administration, vol. 43, 2009, p. 226-244

In welfare state reform, not all policies accomplish what they set out to do. This article presents such 'unexpected consequences' of institutional design as a mechanism by which discrepancies between the original goals of an institution and its actual functioning can empower political actors other than the designers of the institution. Specifically, welfare state supporters can protect it against the inroads of neoliberal reforms and retrenchment. This is demonstrated through a case study drawn from the Israeli welfare state. The Ministry of Finance introduced income testing into the Children's Insurance Plan. However, the National Insurance Institute took advantage of discrepancies between the original goals and actual functioning of this reform to reverse it.

How program participants learn program rules: implications for implementation and evaluation

K. Nam, M. Cancian and D.R. Meyer

Social Service Review, vol. 83, 2009, p. 53-78

Recent research suggests that social welfare programme participants have limited knowledge of the rules governing these interventions. These knowledge gaps are limiting programme effectiveness. This article uses a survey of Wisconsin welfare participants to explore factors associated with whether single mothers have accurate knowledge of child support rules. It also assesses the accuracy of knowledge gained from their own experience, from formal sources such as agency staff, and from informal sources such as family and friends. Multivariate analyses demonstrate the difficulty participants have in understanding new rules.

Immigration and the categorical welfare state in Israel

J. Gal

Social Service Review, vol. 82, 2008, p. 639-661

Israel has absorbed successive large waves of Jewish immigrants throughout its history. Israel is also a democratic society with a highly developed market economy and a relatively comprehensive social welfare system. This article describes Israel's immigration policy and the unique structure of the country's social welfare system, which caters to the needs of immigrants. Grafted onto the generally universal foundations of the Israeli welfare state are additional programmes which seek to address the specific needs of members of certain social categories identified by the state as more deserving than others. The categorical benefit programmes for immigrants are a prime example of this type of policy.

Public opinion and state responsibility for minimum income protection: a comparison of 14 European countries

M. Pfeifer

Acta Sociologica, vol. 52, 2009, p. 117-134

This article investigates public attitudes in 14 European countries to schemes for minimum income protection, including benefits for the long-term unemployed, housing policies, and income support. It is argued that institutional structures of the welfare state do influence how individuals form their attitudes.

Reorganizing the welfare state administration: partnership, networks and accountability

A.L. Fimreite and P. Laegreid

Public Management Review, vol.11, 2009, p. 281-297

This article addresses one of the largest public sector reforms in recent Norwegian history. The reform merged the employment and national insurance administrations into a single new employment and welfare administration. It also introduced more formal collaboration between the new administration and local government social services to offer a 'one-stop-shop' for employment, social protection and social care services at the local level. This article explores this effort to deliver some of the most important services of the welfare state through an organisational structure that in many ways resembles a network.

The welfare state and social capital inequality: an empirical exploration using European/World Values Study data from 13 Western welfare states

W. van Oorschot and E. Finsveen

European Societies, vol. 11, 2009, p. 189-210

This article explores the relationship between the welfare state and inequalities in social capital using data from two waves (1981 and 1999/2000) of the European and World Values Studies for 13 countries. It explores the question of whether social capital inequalities are lower in more generous and comprehensive welfare states by measuring differences in three commonly distinguished aspects of social capital: networks, norms and trust. However, the alleged relationship does not show up clearly in the sample of countries investigated.

Who wants what from the welfare state? Socio-structural cleavages in distributional politics: evidence from Swiss referendum votes

G. Bonoli and S. Hausermann

European Societies, vol. 11, 2009, p. 211-232

This paper analyses the extent to which socio-structural characteristics, such as income and educational level, age and gender, have influenced voting behaviour on redistributive social welfare proposals in referenda in Switzerland. It examines voting patterns in 22 referenda on distributional issues that took place between 1981 and 2004. Proposals included lowering the retirement age, cutting unemployment benefits, and introducing a new maternity insurance scheme. It was hypothesised that conflicts would emerge if the proposal had diverging distributional effects for different age, gender or income categories. This hypothesis was strikingly confirmed in relation to age. In eight out of 10 votes on pension policy, in seven out of eight votes on labour market policy, and in four out of four votes on maternity insurance, age was a significant predictor of voting behaviour.

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