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Welfare Reform on the Web (June 2010): Welfare state - overseas

Accountability and funding as impediments to social policy innovation: lessons from Labour Market Agreements for Persons with Disabilities

P. Graefe and M. Levesque

Canadian Public Policy, vol.36, 2010, p.45-62

Despite the investment of considerable effort in negotiating new agreements between Canadian provincial and federal governments and elaborating new reporting and accountability arrangements, the results in terms of expansion of social rights and the development of innovative policies have been limited. The standard explanation is that the provinces, which are locked in a power struggle with the federal government, have successfully limited their reporting responsibilities and so hindered the exchange of best practices and the spread of innovations. This article argues that federal funding also plays a part in the expansion and reform of social programmes, using Labour Market Agreements for Persons with Disabilities as a case study. It finds significant barriers to innovation in the nature of federal funding, which provides neither incentives for 'have provinces' to expand their programmes nor sufficient funds for 'have not' provinces to transform their services.

Black swans and elephants on the move: the impact of emergencies on the welfare state

F.G. Castles

Journal of European Social Policy, vol.20, 2010, p. 91-101

This article addresses the question of how unexpected national and international emergencies affect the character and development of welfare states. It notes that the impact of emergencies is largely ignored in standard accounts of welfare state development. It then looks at how three historic catastrophes influenced welfare state development: hyperinflation in Germany after World War I, the Great Depression in countries such as Sweden and New Zealand, and World War II in Britain. An analysis of the impact of emergencies by type, timing, size and the extent and character of prior welfare state provision follows.

Diffusing ideas for after neoliberalism: the social investment perspective in Europe and Latin America

J. Jenson

Global Social Policy, vol. 10, 2010, p. 59-84

By the mid-1990s neolliberalism had reached its limits and the discourse of international, national and even sub-national social policy makers began to cohere around new ideas about developmental welfare states. These value macroeconomic policies that promote employment, raise incomes, and achieve other 'people-centred' economic outcomes. They promote social programmes that are productivist and investment oriented, that is social programmes that promote economic participation and generate positive rates of return to the economy. This article addresses two questions: 1) where and when did the social investment perspective emerge as an answer to neoliberalism?; and 2) what were the social mechanisms of its diffusion?

Directions of decommodification: gender and generosity in 12 OECD nations, 1980-2000

C. Bolzendahl

European Sociological Review, vol. 26, 2010, p. 125-141

The extent to which nations decommodify their citizens has been a central focus of much welfare state research. The main focus of this perspective has been on the employment insurance policies provided by national governments, such as unemployment benefits and pensions, which allow citizens to maintain a reasonable standard of living independent of market forces. Given the large scale changes in gender relations in developed countries, with growing economic, political and familial equality, this paper explores the question of how gender equality might be related to decommodification outcomes cross-nationally. Results from descriptive and regression analyses confirm that increases in women's employment and political representation and declining fertility are positively related to higher levels of decommodification.

Eco-spiritual social work as a precondition for social development

S.B. Ferreira

Ethics and Social Welfare, vol.4, 2010, p. 3-23

The social development approach to social welfare is based on the premise that the most effective way of improving people's lot is through social programmes that encourage and enable their participation in the productive economy. In this approach economic progress is regarded as vital for social improvement. However, this emphasis on economic development may turn out to be counterproductive and may lead to injustice done to the people that social workers want to empower by depleting and destroying the environment. Social work must adapt by adopting an eco-spiritual approach that promotes the survival of all species and fits in with the environmental.

Even in Sweden: the effect of immigration on support for welfare state spending

M.A. Eger

European Sociological Review, vol.26, 2010, p. 203-217

Research has not investigated the impact of increased ethnic diversity on individual attitudes to social expenditure. This article seeks to fill this gap by exploring the impact of demographic change on citizens' support for the welfare state in Sweden, a country which, until recently, remained relatively ethnically homogeneous. Results show that recent higher levels of immigration are eroding support for the welfare state at the county level and have a negative effect on attitudes to spending on universal services.

Flexible employment, economic insecurity and social policy preferences in Europe

B. Burgoon and F. Dekker

Journal of European Social Policy, vol. 20, 2010, p. 126-141

Flexible or atypical employment, such as temporary contracts, agency work and part-time jobs, is increasingly common in industrialised economies. A case is developed in this article that temporary and part-time employment may constitute employment risks that make workers in such contracts feel more insecure about their jobs and/or income, in turn increasing support for social policies that address unemployment risk. It is hypothesised that entering flexible employment will increase support for unemployment assistance. The authors find broad support for this hypothesis in individual level survey data from 15 EU member states.

Global welfare regimes: a cluster analysis

M. Abu Sharkh and I. Gough

Global Social Policy, vol. 10, 2010, p. 27-58

This article develops a methodology for clustering a large number of developing countries and applies it to identify a number of distinct welfare regimes. This analysis identifies three types of regime: proto-welfare state regimes, informal security regimes where people rely heavily on community and family for help, and insecurity regimes where institutional arrangements block the emergence even of stable informal security mechanisms.

Poverty as a human rights violation: grassroots perspectives

International Social Science Journal, no.197/198, 2009, p. 315-466

Since 2004 Unesco has advanced the idea of poverty as a human rights issue and has sought thereby to bring it within the remit of law. Law can thus become a tool for social transformation for the benefit of the poorest and human rights can be used as a lever for social development. The articles in this special issue advance knowledge and analysis of various aspects of poverty as it relates to human rights.

Recent social policy developments in Africa

G. Wright and M. Noble

Global Social Policy, vol.10, 2010, p. 111-119

Across Africa, as elsewhere internationally, social challenges are being considered with renewed vigour and a hallmark of the 21st century has been the growing prominence of what has come to be known as 'transformative social policy' to underpin development. This article provides a brief account of recent developments in social policy within two transnational organisations, the African Union and the Southern African Development Community.

Reflecting on men and social policy: contemporary critical debates and their implications for social policy

J. Hearn

Critical Social Policy, vol. 30, 2010, p. 165-188

There are numerous ways in which social policy is about men in its formulation, implementation, delivery and exclusions/inclusions. Men are involved and implicated in social policy in a wide variety of ways as users, family members, practitioners, managers, policymakers, members of social organisations and so on. In this article the author reflects on contemporary critical debates on men and masculinities and their social policy implications, covering masculinity and multiple masculinities; hegemonic masculinity and the hegemony of men; embodiment; and transnationalisation and virtualisation.

Wealth and welfare states: is America a laggard or leader?

I. Garfinkel, L. Rainwater and T. Smeeding

Oxford: OUP, 2010

The book explores the role of the welfare state in the overall wealth and wellbeing of nations and in particular looks at the American welfare state in comparison with other developed nations in Europe and elsewhere. It is widely believed that the welfare state undermines productivity and economic growth, that the United States has an unusually small welfare state, and that it is, and always has been, a welfare state laggard. This book shows that all rich nations, including the United States, have large welfare states because the social programmes that comprise the welfare state, public education and health and social insurance, enhance the productivity of capitalism. In public education, the most productive part of the welfare state, for most of the 19th and 20th centuries, the United States was a leader. Though few would argue that public education is not part of the welfare state, most previous cross national analyses of welfare states have omitted education. Including education has profound consequences, undergirding the case for the productivity of welfare state programmes and the explanation for why all rich nations have large welfare states, and identifying US welfare state leadership. From 1968 through 2006, the United States swung right politically and lost its lead in education and opportunity, failed to adopt universal health insurance and experienced the most rapid explosion of health care costs and economic inequality in the rich world. The American welfare state faces large challenges. Restoring its historical lead in education is the most important but requires investing large sums, beginning with universal pre-school and complementary programmes that aid children's development. The American health insurance system is by far the most costly in the rich world, yet fails to insure one sixth of its population, produces below average results, crowds out useful investments in children, and is the least equitably financed. Achieving universal coverage will increase costs. Only complete government financing is likely to restrain long term costs.

What European and American welfare states have in common and where they differ: facts and fiction in comparisons of the European Social Model and the United States

J. Alber

Journal of European Social Policy, vol. 20, 2010, p. 102-125

This comparison of American and European social policies casts doubt on the usefulness of the common categorisation of the US welfare state as residual. It shows that the US and Europe have more in common than the traditional distinction between the US 'residual' and the European 'institutional-redistributive' welfare states suggests. However, there are persistent differences, which include the higher reliance on work-conditional benefits, on targeted interventions and on private welfare measures in the US. European welfare states have moved away from the goal of social protection and towards activation, with more emphasis on work incentives and full employment, while their basic structures have remained intact. Perhaps a combination of European welfare state structures with the American idea of individual responsibility might offer the best solution.

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