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

Central and South America

B. Greve (editor)

Social Policy and Administration, vol. 43, 2009, p. 325-424

This special issue covers developments in social policy in Latin America, including:

  • Historical shifts in welfare models over the past century from ca. 1900
  • The development and modification of the neoliberal welfare model adopted by Chile in the 1980s, and subsequently exported.
  • The scope for establishing effective conditional cash transfer schemes to foster human development in low-income Latin American countries
  • The gender effects of a conditional cash transfer scheme operating in a rural district of Colombia

Cross-national comparisons of family policies: the relevance of national approaches to social welfare

C.J. Pankratz

Journal of Comparative Family Studies, vol. 40, 2009, p. 493-511

This paper examines family policies cross-nationally, classifying them according to welfare state regime type, in order to demonstrate that family-focused policies are largely connected to a country's overall approach to social welfare. In doing so, this paper focuses on the ways in which family policies reinforce certain forms of class stratification. It is argued that the congruence between family policy structures and overall national approaches to social welfare confirms that understanding family policy development can benefit from existing understandings of the historical, economic and political underpinnings of welfare state regimes.

A democratic architecture for the welfare state

V. Pestoff

London: Routledge, 2009

The welfare state faces various challenges in Scandinavia and many European countries today, including a poor work environment in the public sector, a growing democracy deficit, and demographic obstacles. The book argues that the state cannot resolve these challenges alone or together with the market; rather it requires the active participation of citizens and the third sector in order to overcome them and become more sustainable and flexible in the future. It addresses the need for a more democratic architecture for the European welfare state, opening new perspectives for developing alternative channels for direct citizen participation at the sub-municipal level of governance. It shifts the focus of analysis from the input to the output side of the political system and explores new ways to promote a greater role for the third sector and more citizen participation in the provision of universal, tax financed welfare services.

Economic liberalisation, social capital and Islamic welfare provision

J. Harrigan and H. El-Said

Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009

Economic liberalisation programmes have been introduced to several countries in the Middle East and North Africa in recent years, with the World Bank and IMF promoting this reform. The inevitable retrenchment of the state under liberalisation has arguably opened up a space for Islamic-based activities related to welfare provision. This book looks at two aspects of Islamic activity in the Middle East and North Africa: the development of social capital and the provision of welfare services, especially in the area of health and education. With in-depth country studies of Jordan, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia, this book explores the differing experiences of the MENA countries. These range from the Tunisian experience, in which state welfare provision actually increased under liberalisation, to the experience of Jordan and Egypt, where increased poverty and a decline in the quality of state welfare provision under liberalisation has led to a large increase in Islamic welfare activities to the extent that the Muslim Brotherhood has gained considerable political capital, and now represents the main opposition to incumbent regimes in these two countries.

The exclusion and marginalisation of immigrants in the Danish welfare society: dilemmas and challenges

J. Andersen, J.E. Larsen and I.H. Moller

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 29, 2009, p. 274-286

This paper addresses the issue of the exclusion and marginalisation of immigrants in Danish society. The analytical framework draws on the concepts of recognition and redistribution as formulated and developed in the works of Fraser and applies them to the to the socio-economic and wider socio-cultural and political integration of immigrants into Danish society. Since the 1990s, the political discourse has changed with the emergence of right-wing anti-immigration populism seriously affecting immigrants' legal rights and opportunities for socio-cultural and socio-economic inclusion. On the one hand, these changes have been driven by a strong 'work first' discourse which has led to a reduction in the duration and level of social benefits, and increased poverty. On the other hand, other policy changes have been more inclusive, such as active labour market policy measures and innovative empowerment programmes in deprived urban areas.

Falling fertility rates: new challenges to the European welfare state

A.E. Vos

Socio-Economic Review, vol. 7, 2009, p. 485-503

One of the biggest issues currently plaguing advanced industrial countries is the persistence of low fertility rates. In the European Union (EU) all member states but Ireland have a fertility rate below 2.1, the rate necessary to replace the current population. There is serious concern that the EU's future is menaced by the failure of the population to replace itself. Decreasing fertility rates threaten economic growth, while governments face having to spend more on pensions and health services when the number of adults of working age who contribute to older generations' pensions is diminishing. While governments can put in place institutions and policies that will encourage people to have children (such as subsidies for children, family leave policies and day care facilities), decisions on family size are a personal matter. It is a combination of systems of welfare provision, people's ability to provide for their well-being, and couples' individual choices that will result in increased fertility rates across Europe.

Hand in hand or under the thumb? A new perspective on social welfare in Japan

L. Rosario

Social Policy and Society, vol. 8, 2009, p.307-317

According to Young (2000), there are two basic types of relationship between the state and non-profit organisations: the supplementary model and the complementary model. In the former, non-profit organisations provide services not offered by the statutory sector and meet the needs which it does not fulfil. In the latter, non-profit organisations simply deliver public services, largely financed by the government. Through an examination of the origin and structure of the welfare system in Japan, and the legal framework which fostered the development of the non-profit sector, this paper shows that the relationship between state and non-profit has been one which is predominantly complementary in nature, and that attempts to bring it into a more supplementary mode have been largely unsuccessful.

How welfare states shape the gender pay gap: a theoretical and comparative analysis

H. Mandel and M. Shalev

Social Forces, vol. 87, 2009, p. 1873-1912

This article assesses the impact of the welfare state on cross-national variation in the gender wage gap. Earnings inequality between men and women is conceptualised as resulting from their different locations in the class hierarchy, combined with the severity of wage differentials within and between classes. The severity of the class divide, in conjunction with the extent to which women penetrate the upper reaches of the class structure and the advantages they find there, are critical sources of cross-national variation in gender wage inequality. In turn these components of the wage gap are systematically shaped by the welfare state. For example, work-family reconciliation and public sector expansion in the social democracies bring mothers into the labour market while inadvertently blocking them from attaining higher class positions. However, these same states also favour policies that support class equality by protecting workers' economic security and raising the wage floor, which particularly benefit women. The opposite is true for liberal welfare regimes, which refrain from adopting policies that would limit the opportunities of high-flying women, while at the same time obliging less fortunate women to pay the price of class inequality.

A Nordic Nirvana? Gender, citizenship and social justice in the Nordic welfare states

R. Lister

Social Politics, vol.16, 2009, p.242-278

The virtues of the Nordic welfare state are extolled by centre-left commentators in British political debate. Its promotion of gender equality attracted the approval of British feminists. This article considers the extent to which Nordic welfare states have been successful in promoting a woman-friendly, gender-inclusive model of citizenship, taking into account the differences between the Nordic countries. It is concluded that they all fall short of the ideal of the woman-friendly welfare state. In addition, minority ethnic and immigrant women have not been incorporated into the Nordic model of gender-inclusive citizenship.

The scalar dimension of welfare state development: the case of Swedish and Finnish social assistance systems

S. Scarpa

Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society, vol. 2, 2009, p. 67-83

This article seeks to address the issue of the territorial dimension of social policy by taking into account the role played by central governments in enhancing or reducing the importance of local governments in service delivery, and in determining the ways in which national and local welfare policies are interrelated. In particular, it aims to compare the historical development of the Swedish and Finnish social assistance systems from the post-war period onwards, using the 3-fold periodization recently outlined by Neil Brenner. The influence of central-local relations on social assistance regulation is explored from the early phase of 'Spatial-Keynesianism', through the intermediate stage of 'Endogenous Development Policies' up to the present phase of 'Locational Policies'

Social welfare in western society

G. Handel

London: Transaction Publishers, 2009

Social welfare in all its forms is based on one central concept - help. But there are many versions of help and multiple debates about those versions. The major versions of help, their development, and the debates are carefully examined in this volume. It argues that in history five basic concepts of help have emerged. These five are: charity, based on a relationship between private donors and recipients; public welfare, based on a relationship between the state and its recipients; social insurance, based on a relationship between the state and beneficiaries of its programmes; social service, based on people skilled in interaction providing skill-based time to their clients; and, mutual aid groups (sometimes misleadingly called self-help groups), whose members are simultaneously helpers and those helped. There are multiple versions of each of these five concepts now usually referred to as social policy issues. There are fierce disagreements about what is helpful and which supposed forms of help are harmful to the wider society. The book asks:

  • Should the poor be helped or punished?
  • Who is to blame?
  • Do the poor have the same rights as other people?
  • Who should pay?
  • Who should decide?
  • What is the effect of receiving welfare on incentives to work?
  • Who should be helped?
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