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

Changing European employment and welfare regimes: the influence of the open method of coordination on national reforms

M. Heidenreich and J. Zeitlin (editors)

London: Routledge, 2009

This book examines how and to what extent the European Employment Strategy and the Open Method of Coordination (OMC) on Social Protection and Social Inclusion have influenced national labour market and social welfare policies. Focusing on the implementation of the OMC in different national environments, this book examines how the proposals and targets of the OMC are interpreted and implemented within the context of existing national employment and welfare regimes. At a theoretical level and on the basis of national case studies, the book considers how OMC objectives, guidelines, targets, and recommendations may reshape the domestic institutional framework, how learning and participation of governmental bodies are organized across different hierarchical levels, and how non-state actors may be involved in the formulation and implementation of national reform plans. It concludes that the OMC has contributed significantly to both substantive and procedural reforms, in spite of the many institutional barriers to Europeanization in this policy area.

The democratization of welfare between rhetoric and reality: local planning, participation and third sector in Italy

L. Fazzi

Journal of Civil Society, vol. 5, 2009, p. 187-203

The third sector has increasingly engaged in various types of partnership and collaborative planning processes with Italian local authorities in recent years, moving from its traditional role as a residual actor in social policy. This article reports the results of a survey of 12 local social plans implemented in Italy between 2003 and 2006. Results show that third sector participation in local social policy development does not of itself improve performance. Unless accompanied by modernisation and investment of public resources, it may have drawbacks that outweigh its benefits.

German family policy at the crossroads: analysing the impact of parental leave reform through simulation

M. Wust

International Journal of Social Welfare, vol. 18, 2009, p. 407-418

This article examines the impact of recent German reforms of parental leave schemes. It applies microsimulation using a type-case approach, i.e. the simulation of the impact of institutional changes on a limited number of model families. Results show that the orientation of the scheme is changing from support of traditional male breadwinner families towards support of dual earner couples. Furthermore, the recent reforms bring the German scheme closer to the Swedish model. They also introduce new concepts of fairness and a focus on gender equality.

Investing in the disadvantaged: assessing the benefits and costs of social policies

D. Weimer and A. Vining (editors)

Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press; 2009

The book considers how to face America's most urgent social needs with shrinking resources. With budgets squeezed at every level of government, cost-benefit analysis (CBA) holds outstanding potential for assessing the efficiency of many social programmes. The book addresses the application of CBA to social policy and examines ten of the most important policy domains: early childhood development, elementary and secondary schools, health care for the disadvantaged, mental illness, substance abuse and addiction, juvenile crime, prisoner re-entry programmes, housing assistance, work-incentive programmes for the unemployed and employers, and welfare-to-work interventions. Each contributor discusses the applicability of CBA to actual programmes, describing both proven and promising examples showing how CBA can be used to inform policy choices that produce social value.

Understanding the policy process: analysing welfare policy and practice. 2nd ed

J. Hudson and S. Lowe

Bristol: Policy Press, 2009

This book draws on the latest and best social science to explain how and why social policy change occurs. Focusing on the policy making process as the key to change, it uses core concepts of policy analysis, one in each chapter, to build up a fully worked out explanation of social policy change and to equip readers with knowledge that can be applied to any aspect of welfare policy and public and social policy more generally. This second edition of the book updates the first edition for the post-Blair era with international case studies from numerous countries. It introduces the main themes of the policy analysis literature; demonstrates the centrality of the policy making process to an understanding of the operational possibilities and limits of social policy; and takes account of macro-, meso- and micro-level approaches to social policy analysis.

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