Click here to skip to content

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

Analysing social policy: a governmental approach

G. Marston and C. McDonald (editors)

Cheltenham: Elgar, 2009

The book expands the scope of social policy analysis using insights from post-Foucauldian scholarship on the art of governing in liberal democracies. One of the main conclusions reached is that policy researchers need to pay much greater attention to the minutiae of policy reform, and to the discursive and material ways in which power operates in policy change. The chapters comprising this book draw on social policy problems and practices in many countries, ranging from North America to Europe to Australasia. The editors address key concerns both policy analysts as well as academic researchers, attempting to locate appropriate theoretical frameworks to make sense of welfare state restructuring in the 21st century.

Back to Bourgeois? French social policy and the idea of solidarity

D. Beland

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 29, 2009, p. 445-456

Contributing to the growing literature on the role of ideas and related cultural discursive processes in policy development, this article reconstructs the uses of the idea of solidarity in French political and social policy discourse. It offers a comparison between the late 19th century, when this idea became part of the Republican tradition through the work of intellectuals and politicians like Leon Bourgeois, and the late 1980s and 1990s, when intellectuals and politicians like Pierre Rosanvallon referred to this idea in order to justify the adoption and expansion of path-departing programmes such as the Revenu Minimum d'Insertion and Contribution Sociale Géneralisé.

Early retirement in three types of welfare states

J. Kim

Research on Aging, vol.31, 2009, p. 520-548

The main purpose of this study was to examine the labour force participation rates of 55- to 64-year-olds across countries and by gender on the basis of Esping-Andersen's typology of welfare states. It found that:

  • Various welfare states have different levels of labour force participation rates for older adults because they have different aims. For example, conservative welfare states provide low levels of family care services and encourage people to exit the labour force to look after family members. On the other hand, social-democratic welfare states aim to maximise the labour supply by providing family care services.
  • Different levels of social service provision (e.g. health, education and welfare services) across welfare states are associated with variations in early retirement. Social service employment as a share of total employment affects the labour force participation of older adults, especially women.
  • Different levels of decommodification at work can explain welfare state differences in the effects of country-level characteristics on the labour force participation rates of older adults. It has been argued that decommodification at work can be reflected in absence behaviour and that variations in absenteeism are closely related to both labour force exit and entry levels. This means that a higher probability of absence is associated with a low level of early retirement as well as with a high level of labour force participation among older workers. The social-democratic welfare states have the highest levels of absenteeism at work, the conservative welfare states fall in the middle, and the liberal welfare states have the lowest.

Exploring 'housing asset-based welfare': can the UK be held up as an example for Europe?

J. Toussaint and M. Elsinga

Housing Studies, vol. 24, 2009, p. 669-692

In the UK, the encouragement of home ownership is regarded as a strand of asset-based welfare policies. Home ownership is becoming a more significant aspect of welfare provision, particularly as a source of income security in old age through equity release schemes. This paper attempts to reveal the extent to which seven other European countries are moving in the same direction, using data from the EU Project OSIS. Home ownership was found to provide security and played a role in people's financial planning in all countries. Home ownership was used as means of achieving low housing costs and of building up a nest-egg that could be cashed in by selling. However, use of equity release schemes to gain access to cash for welfare needs had only been adopted in the UK.

Global poverty, ethics and human rights: the role of multilateral organisations

D. McNeill and A. Lera St. Clair

London: Routledge, 2009

Severe poverty is one of the greatest moral challenges of our times. But what place, if any, do ethical thinking and questions of global justice have in the policies and practice of international organizations? This books examines this question in depth, based on an analysis of the two major multilateral development organizations - the World Bank and the UNDP - and two specific initiatives where poverty and ethics or human rights have been explicitly in focus: the Inter-American Development Bank and UNESCO. The current development aid framework may be seen as seeking to make globalization work for the poor; and multilateral organizations such as these are powerful global actors, whether by virtue of their financial resources, or in their role as global norm-setting bodies and as sources of hegemonic knowledge about poverty.

International social policy: welfare regimes in the developed world. 2nd ed.

P. Alcock and G. Craig (editors)

Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009

The book examines social policy in a global comparative context. With detailed explanations of the historical, political and social context of policy developments across thirteen nations, the book offers an authoritative picture of social policy across the developed world. This second edition now offers an expanded first chapter on welfare analysis, completely new chapters on China and South Korea, and updates throughout that describe the latest changes and policy trends. Exploring and comparing a variety of approaches to social policy, each chapter looks at welfare structure, developments and future prospects in a single country. The book considers core areas of policy provision alongside contemporary international concerns, such as globalization, demographic change and economic reform.

Privatizing responsibility: public sector reform under neoliberal government

S. Ilcan

Canadian Review of Sociology, vol. 46, 2009, p. 207-234

In the context of neoliberal reforms in Canada and elsewhere, this paper discusses the change from collective to personal responsibility for welfare. Citizens are expected to take responsibility for themselves and for maximising their social and economic advancement. Voluntary organisations are becoming increasingly responsible for managing the more vulnerable members of society instead of campaigning for change. Former public services are privatised and outsourced. These developments are supported by the emergence of a cultural mentality of rule, termed a responsibilising ethos.

Work-family balance, gender and policy

J. Lewis

Cheltenham: Elgar, 2009

Over the past decade the issue of work-family balance has reached a more prominent place on the policy agenda of many Western European countries. However the preoccupations of governments have been largely instrumental, focusing particularly on the goal of increasing female employment rates in order to achieve greater competitiveness and economic growth, and also in many countries on raising fertility rates and promoting children's early learning. This book looks at the three main components of work-family policy packages - childcare services, flexible working patterns and entitlements to leave from work in order to care - across EU15 Member States, with comparative reference to the US. It also provides an in-depth examination of developments in the UK. Variations in national priorities, policy instruments, established policy orientations and the context for policy making in terms of employment patterns, fertility behaviour and attitudes towards work and care are highlighted. Gender inequalities in the division of paid and unpaid work underpin the whole issue of work-family balance. But what constitutes gender equality in this crucial policy field? The book argues that in spite of growing political emphasis on the importance of 'choice', a 'real' choice to engage in either or both of the socially necessary activities of paid and unpaid work has remained elusive.

Search Welfare Reform on the Web