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

'Flexicurity' as a policy strategy: the implications for gender equality

J. Lewis and A. Plomien

Economy and Society, vol. 38, 2009, p. 433-459

Flexicurity has become a prominent strategy of the European Union since the mid-2000s. The main idea of flexicurity is to promote flexibility and security simultaneously for paid workers (the policy documents employ gender neutral language) using a combination of policy instruments. The strategy aims to raise employment rates at all stages of the life-course and to make workplaces more adaptable by offering more flexible contract arrangements (external flexibility) and achieving more flexible patterns of work organisation (internal flexibility). This article explores the flexicurity strategy's treatment of gender issues. It offers evidence as to the flexibility of women workers, particularly in relation to internal, working-time flexibility, and then examines how women fare on the security side of the equation in terms of the supply-side policy instruments favoured by the strategy, ie lifelong learning and active labour market policies.

Giving and getting: charitable activity and public assistance

C. Guo and L.R. Peck

Administration and Society, vol. 41, 2009, p. 600-627

This article explores issues of welfare recipients' donations of their time and (quite limited) money for charitable purposes, using data from the 2003 wave of the US Center on Philanthropy's Panel Study. Results show that prior public assistance receipt is associated with making lower financial donations to charity, but as current public assistance income increases, so do volunteer hours given to charity.

Medicalization of umemployment: individualizing social issues as personal problems in the Swedish welfare state

M. Holmqvist

Work, Employment and Society, vol. 23, 2009, p. 405-421

This article reports qualitative data on how the Swedish Public Employment Service classifies unemployed clients as 'occupationally disabled' in order to transfer them to various labour market programmes. In other words, some people are classified as disabled in order to explain their long-term unemployment. It is argued that the redefinition of the social issue of unemployment as an individual medical problem has interesting implications for theory and policy.

A welfare trap? The duration and dynamics of social assistance use among lone mothers in Canada

M. Cooke

Canadian Review of Sociology, vol. 46, 2009, p. 179-206

In the late 1990s changes to the social assistance regime in Canada encouraged provinces to focus on reducing welfare expenditure by changing eligibility criteria and making benefit receipt conditional on claimants taking active steps to find paid work. Using data from the Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics and event history models, this research investigates the duration of social assistance receipt for lone mothers and other household heads. Results suggest the existence of a 'benefits trap' for lone mothers. In the face of lack of affordable childcare, low self-esteem, stigma, and a shortage of well paid jobs, many may resign themselves to a life on benefits.

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