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

Beyond the public safety net: the role of nonprofits in addressing material hardship of low-income households

B. Guo

Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, vol. 39, 2010, p. 784-801

Research on material hardship shows that a high proportion of low income households in the United States are unable to make ends meet. This study uses data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation to examine where households facing material hardship turn for assistance. Contrary to the common assumption that nonprofits play an increasing role in service provision after welfare reform, the data do not show an increase in their activity in areas related to the relief of material hardship. In the areas compared, the government outweighs nonprofits in providing material assistance to low income households, even without counting major public assistance programmes. However, several findings show that nonprofits play a supplementary role in social service provision.

Corporate power: agency, communication, influence and social policy

Critical Social Policy, vol. 30, 2010, p. 459-589

This special issue focuses on the role of industry lobbying and corporate 'spin' in the shaping of social policy. It is argued that the rise of spin and public relations is a key feature of neoliberalism. In the past two decades they have worked to reshape the content and process of policy-making in a way that has undermined democracy. Papers examine the role of corporate social responsibility discourse and transnational corporate agency in social policy development, the role of think tanks in the introduction of the private finance initiative into the UK, corporate agency in the introduction of enterprise education into UK schools, and attempts by the food and drinks industries to blunt the edge of public health policies aimed at combating obesity and alcohol misuse.

Economic vulnerability among low-educated Europeans: resource, composition, labour market and welfare state influences

M. Gesthuizen and P. Scheepers

Acta Sociologica, vol. 53, 2010, p. 247-268

As a lack of educational qualifications stands out as an important determinant of economic vulnerability, this article focuses on the likelihood of low-educated individuals, compared to their better qualified peers, experiencing such a negative situation. It aims to explore why the low-educated are relatively more likely to be economically vulnerable, to describe cross-national differences in the relative risk of economic vulnerability, and to explain why the low educated are worse off in some countries than others. It is observed that welfare states can to a great extent reduce economic vulnerability among the low-educated.

Intergenerational justice perceptions and the role of welfare regimes: a comparative analysis of university students

C. Sabbagh and P. Vanhuysse

Administration and Society, vol.42, 2010, p. 638-667

This study examined how university student populations in eight democracies perceive the legitimacy of resource transfers from younger to older age groups, the sense of injustice they feel toward different age groups, and the extent to which these justice perceptions are differently structured across four types of welfare regimes. Support in principle of young-to-old transfers is stronger in social democratic and conservative than in liberal and radical welfare regimes and correlates positively with a welfare-statist ideological frame and negatively with a market-based frame. Particular concern is expressed that in conservative regimes the elderly were perceived as being overrewarded and the young and adults as being underrewarded. This is evidence that the intergenerational contract may be breaking down.

Is there an extended family of Mediterranean welfare states?

J. Gal

Journal of European Social Policy, vol. 20, 2010, p. 283-300

This article claims that the discourse concerning Mediterranean welfare states needs to be widened beyond its previous narrow focus on mainland Europe so as to include Cyprus, Malta, Turkey and Israel. It underscores a number of features common to the welfare states of these countries and those of Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece. Finally, it identifies three overarching themes that appear to underlie the commonalities of Mediterranean welfare states. These are religion, family and the role of clientelist-particularist relations in the structuring and functioning of welfare state institutions.

The Middle East

J. Gal and B. Greve (editors)

Social Policy and Administration, vol. 44, 2010, p. 655-763

The articles in this special issue cover a wide range of countries and aspects of social policy in the Middle East. They clearly underscore the distinct ways in which social policies have developed in various Middle Eastern countries , and the diverse forms that they take, particularly in the intersection between state, civil society and the family. Compared to other countries, the market seems still to have a less profound role in welfare policies, whereas civil society is more prominent. Despite the clear differences among the countries, all the authors emphasise the major role that culture, particularly in the form of religion, and institutional legacies play in contemporary social policy structures.

Public support for redistribution: what explains cross-national differences?

U. Dallinger

Journal of European Social Policy, vol. 20, 2010, p. 333-349

This research explores the question of what shapes public support for redistribution to reduce the income gap between rich and poor in a given country, given that there is significant cross-national variation in acceptance of this policy. Appropriate explanations beyond the median voter hypothesis are sought within both political economy and the comparative welfare regime approaches.

The role of European welfare states in intergenerational money transfers: a micro-level perspective

N. Schenk, P. Dykstra and I. Maas

Ageing and Society, vol. 30, 2010, p. 1315-1342

This paper examines financial transfers from parents to their adult children in ten European countries in 2004. The research tested a theoretical model which incorporated micro-level determinants of support provision (money transfers) by parents and of receipts by children. This model was based on explicit expectations about the role of the child's and the parents' needs and resources, including the parents' need to make alternative expenditures, and their expectations of future reciprocal support. This model was then used to test whether differences in welfare state generosity were associated with systematic national differences in patterns of transfers from parents to their children, using data from the first wave of the Survey of Health and Retirement in Europe. The results indicate that the likelihood of a transfer being made is the outcome of an intricate resolution of the resources (ability) of the parents and the needs of a child. No consistent differences by welfare state regime were found.

Welfare state and life transitions: a European perspective

D. Anxo, G. Bosch and J. Rubery (editors)

Cheltenham: Elgar, 2010

The book uses the lens of key life stages to highlight changes in life transitions and in available resources for citizen support within nine European welfare states. It reveals that new life courses are found to require more, and not less welfare support, but only Sweden has developed an active life course approach and only three more countries could be considered supportive, in at least some life stages. For the remainder, policies were at best limited or, in Italy's case, passive. The contributors reveal that the neglect of changing needs is leading to greater reliance on the family and the labour market, just as these support structures are becoming more unpredictable and more unequal. They argue that new forms of inter-generational inequality are emerging, particularly in pension provision.

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