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Welfare Reform on the Web (February 2011): Welfare state - overseas

Deservingness versus values in public opinion on welfare: the automaticity of the deservingness heuristic

M. Bang Petersen and others

European Journal of Political Research, vol. 50, 2010, p. 24-52

Previous work on welfare attitudes has identified political values and perceptions of deservingness as important factors influencing citizens' support for welfare policy. This study extends these insights by illuminating how the impact of values and perceptions of deservingness varies depending on which contextual information citizens have available when forming welfare opinions. It is argued that, whenever citizens face deservingness-relevant cues in public debate or in the media, a psychological deservingness heuristic is triggered prompting them to think about welfare policy in terms of who deserves help. Moreover, when clear deservingness cues are present, the impact of values on opinions vanishes.

The electoral consequences of welfare state retrenchment: blame avoidance or credit claiming in the era of permanent austerity?

N. Giger and M. Nelson

European Journal of Political Research, vol. 50, 2010, p. 1-23

It is generally assumed that welfare state cutbacks incur voter wrath, and that political parties can protect themselves through blame avoidance strategies. This article argues that the electoral consequences of welfare state cutbacks differ according to party family and that some parties, rather than avoiding blame, are able to claim credit for retrenchment. In particular, religious and liberal parties can win votes through social welfare cuts.

Explaining recent shifts in family policy

M. Matzke and I. Ostner (guest editors)

Journal of European Social Policy, vol. 20, 2010, p. 387-480 Families have become a focal point in debates about 'new risks' and 'new policies' for Western welfare states. Family policy responses to the new challenges and even the goals associated with welfare policies designed to assist families, have, however, varied across countries and there is much uncertainty about the sources of this variation and the future development of the policy field. This special issue brings together a range of articles that, taken together, map the full spectrum of advanced industrial countries' family policy dilemmas, responses, and intervening institutional and ideational variables. Its goal is to take a first step towards explaining the varied degrees and forms of family policy activism in the mature welfare states of Western liberal democracies.

Moving towards human rights based social policies in China

K. R. Fisher, X. Shang and M. Blaxland

Social Policy and Society, vol. 10, 2011, p. 67-121

Fast economic growth in China has created wealth which could be invested in the social welfare of its citizens. At the same time, social problems and conflicts have accumulated, leading to demands for radical reform of social policies. In this context the Chinese government has moved towards human rights based social policies. This themed section illustrates the social policy issues facing the Chinese government through a collection of articles covering pension reform, elder care, kinship foster care for vulnerable children, and child protection.

Philanthropy in European welfare states: a challenging promise?

T.N.M. Schuyt

International Review of Administrative Sciences, vol. 76, 2010, p. 774-789

Philanthropy, in a new guise, has made a comeback in Western Europe and most industrialised countries over the past 20 years. It is playing an increasing role in welfare states. However, governments searching for new ways to fund welfare services have yet to fully recognise its potential. In addition to commercialisation and the market, a non-profit sector based on philanthropic revenue could be an interesting option for delivering services. Public administrators will have to rise to the challenge of creating a legal, economic and cultural framework that will stimulate and enhance philanthropy.

Rescaling social policies: towards multilevel governance in Europe

Y. Kazepov (editor)

Farnham: Ashgate, 2010

The workings of multi-level governance - institutional choices concerning centralisation, decentralisation and subsidiarity - are widely debated within European public policy, but few systematic studies assessing the effects of changing divisions of power for policy-making have been carried out. This volume offers an assessment of the workings of multi-level governance in terms of social welfare policy across different clusters of European states - Nordic, Southern European, Central and East European. This book reports on a major comparative study at the European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research, which included partners from universities in Finland, France, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Poland, Spain and Switzerland. It reports on three particular policy areas: social assistance and local policies against poverty; activation and labour market policies; and care for the elderly. The authors describe different starting points, strategies and solutions in European countries which are facing similar challenges and could thus learn from each other. They explore the differences between European welfare regimes in terms of territorial responsibilities, the changes that have taken place over the past few years and their effects.

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