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Welfare Reform on the Web (March 2010): Social security - overseas

Mapping the perspectives of low-income parents in a children's college savings account program

T. Johnson, D. Adams and J.S. Kim

Children and Youth Services Review, vol. 32, 2010, p.129-136

Asset-building policies and programmes to help poor people build resources for the long-term social and economic development of their children have emerged in many countries. Often such accounts are dedicated to post-secondary education and training. This study uses participatory concept mapping techniques to explore perspectives of low-income parents in a children's college savings account (CSA) programme in a large US city. Findings suggest that parents view CSA components that: 1) demonstrate respect for parents; and 2) enhance accountability as being particularly effective and important elements of matched savings programmes.

Need for and barriers to accessing public benefits among low-income families with children

C.-F. Wu and M.K. Eamon

Children and Youth Services Review, vol. 32, 2010, p.58-66

Despite the importance of public benefits for low-income families with children, few studies have investigated whether means-tested programmes achieve the goal of meeting their basic needs. In addition to addressing this question, this study also examined whether perceived and received assistance from private sources eliminated the perceived need to claim public benefits. Finally, it identified barriers that prevent poor families with unmet needs from accessing public benefits. Results suggest that neither public benefits nor private assistance currently fully meet the basic needs of low-income families. Eligibility criteria, lack of knowledge, bureaucratic hassle and social stigma were common barriers to accessing public benefits.

Redefining compassion to reform welfare: how supporters of the 1990s US Federal welfare reform aimed for the moral high ground

R. Stryker and P. Wald

Social Politics, vol.16, 2009, p. 519-557

This article uses historical and content/discourse analyses to examine how the abstract, general value of compassion shaped debate over the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA), which ended the entitlement to need-based public assistance in the United States. Democrats and PRWORA opponents attacked Republican reformers for lacking compassion for the needy. Republican PRWORA promoters responded by redefining compassion to make it a positive resource for ending entitlement. Compassion so redefined conjoined with perversity rhetoric and negative attributions about welfare recipients to construct a moral map and logically coherent symbolic package promoting entitlement's end.

Risks in the labor market and social insurance preferences: Germany and the USA

A. Duman

International Journal of Social Economics, vol.37, 2010, p. 150-164

This paper develops an econometric model to explore the primary factors explaining the demand for social insurance programmes, particularly unemployment insurance. Occupational unemployment rate and income are shown to be the key factors determining public support for social insurance. No robust relationship was found between skill specificity and unemployment insurance preferences. There is no one-to-one correspondence between skill specificity and unemployment risk at the occupational level. Because of this, workers with highly specific skills do not automatically demand greater social protection.

The social impact of work-integration social enterprise in Hong Kong

A. P.-Y. Ho and K.-T. Chan

International Social Work, vol. 53, 2010, p. 33-45

Work-integration social enterprises (WISEs) in Hong Kong seek to help poorly qualified unemployed people rejoin the labour market by offering them a job and training opportunities. WISEs are mainly established by non-government agencies and managed by social workers. Participants benefit in terms of increased income, expanded social networks, and greater psycho-social well being.

Taxes, transfers and Canadian income inequality

M. Frenette, D.A. Green and K. Milligan

Canadian Public Policy, vol.35, 2009, p. 389-411

This paper investigates the relationship between substantial changes in tax and transfer programmes and the movements in after-tax income inequality in Canada over the 1980s and 1990s. In the 1980s, tax and transfer programmes became more redistributive, offsetting substantial increases in market income inequality. Although tax and transfer programmes were more redistributive in 2000 than in 1980, by then they were failing to neutralise rising inequalities in market income. Much change in the period occurred at the provincial level, with social assistance payments first increasing in the late 1980s, then decreasing after 1995, and with surtaxes on high earners first being imposed and then removed.

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