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

Cycling off and on welfare in Canada

E. Lightman, A. Mitchell and D. Herd

Journal of Social Policy, vol. 39, 2010, p. 523-542

In the 1990s Canada, like other industrialised countries, implemented active labour market policies, with an emphasis on the unemployed taking the shortest route into paid work. There has been little research on the outcomes of these dramatic changes. This article explores the labour market experiences of those who were on social assistance in Canada in 1996. Results show that those leaving social assistance in Canada enter a world of precarious and low-paid work, with periodic returns to welfare. Their job characteristics are significantly worse than non-social assistance recipients: they earn lower wages, work fewer hours and consequently have lower annual earnings. Over time the gap narrows, but remains significant, even after six years.

Re-thinking the incrementalist thesis in China: a reflection on the development of the minimum standard of living scheme in urban and rural areas

C.K. Chan

Journal of Social Policy, vol. 39, 2010, p. 627-645

This article analyses the impact of social conflict on the development of China's public assistance schemes in both urban and rural areas. It shows that the government introduced the urban minimum standard of living scheme (MSLS) in 1997 in order to address discontent among urban workers following reforms of state owned enterprises that led to many being laid off or retired. The MSLS was an urban-oriented welfare scheme that provided some compensation for redundant or compulsorily retired workers who had previously held prestigious positions in state enterprises. The state only introduced a rural MSLS in 2007 after large scale and violent peasant protests against rural poverty and unfair land acquisitions. Both MSLSs are minimal and stigmatising public assistance schemes that aim to secure a stable political environment for economic reform and to maintain poor people's work ethic for China's mixed economy.

'Selective flexicurity' in segmented labour markets: the case of Italian 'mid-siders'

M. Jessoula, P. R. Graziano and I. Madama

Journal of Social Policy, vol. 39, 2010, p. 561-583

Flexicurity in the labour market emerges from the combination of diffusion of flexible job contracts, generous social protection for the unemployed and effective activation measures in order to promote employability. In Italy since the early 1990s job flexibility has been pursued much more vigorously than social protection or training programmes. Moreover, flexibilisation has been introduced for new entrants to the labour market, while employment protection for established workers has not changed. Workers on permanent contracts continue to enjoy a high level of job protection and generous benefits in case of unemployment, while newcomers enter the market with short-term contracts, virtually no job protection and no entitlement to unemployment benefits.

Universal welfare by 'other means'? Social tax expenditures and the Australian dual welfare state

A. Stebbing and B. Spies-Butcher

Journal of Social Policy, vol. 39, 2010, p. 585-606

In recent decades the Australian welfare state has been transformed. Labour market deregulation has wound back industrial protections since the 1980s. Simultaneously, social expenditure has increased, particularly for families with children, mostly following a traditional model of means-tested payments with taper rates that include most low- and middle-income earners. There have also been parallel developments in fiscal welfare, particularly the growth of social tax expenditures (spending delivered as tax breaks). These have increased alongside labour market deregulation and increased spending on families. This article charts the rise of social tax expenditures, discusses the reasons for their growth, and conceives of them as forming a second institutional tier of a dual welfare state.

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