Click here to skip to content

Welfare Reform on the Web (March 2011): Social security - overseas

Cell phones, electronic delivery systems and social cash transfers: recent evidence and experiences from Africa

K. Vincent and T. Cull

International Social Security Review, vol.64, no.1, 2011, p. 37-51

There is much promising evidence to support the use of electronic delivery systems in cash transfer programmes, with experiments having taken place in pilots across Southern Africa, and with consideration now being given to the use of such systems in a number of national programmes. The major benefit of electronic delivery systems is increased cost-efficiency (lower transaction costs per transfer than traditional 'pull' systems involving the physical delivery of cash), not to mention increased levels of convenience for both the programme implementer and the transfer recipient. This article reviews evidence from Kenya, Malawi, Namibia and Swaziland, and also highlights the growing interest shown by Lesotho, Mozambique and Ghana.

Hong Kong: workfare in the world's freest economy

C.K. Chan

International Journal of Social Welfare, vol. 20, 2011, p. 22-32

Over the past three decades, many Western welfare states introduced workfare to tackle a dependency culture and a heavy social security burden. Surprisingly, workfare was introduced in Hong Kong when the country had a relatively small social security budget and citizens who adhered to ideologies of self-reliance and family dependency. This analysis shows that the Community Work programme in Hong Kong stigmatised claimants and deterred the unemployed from seeking help. It therefore kept the social security budget under control and strengthened the spirit of self-help among the poor. As a result, Hong Kong's minimal social security scheme and its low tax policy have been maintained.

Lagging behind in good times: immigrants and the increased dependence on social assistance in Sweden

C. Mood

International Journal of Social Welfare, vol.20, 2011, p. 55-65

During the recession in the 1990s, the number of people receiving social assistance in Sweden increased dramatically. Numbers of claimants then declined as the economy recovered, and the number of recipients since 2001 has been lower than in 1990. However, social assistance claimants now receive larger benefits for longer periods. This analysis shows that long-term dependence on social assistance in a period of economic prosperity is the experience of a highly vulnerable group consisting mainly of immigrants.

Needs for food security from the standpoint of Canadian households participating and not participating in community food programmes

A.-M. Hamelin, C. Mercier and A. Bedard

International Journal of Consumer Studies, vol.35, 2011, p. 58-68

Food security for a household means access by all members at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life. Food insecurity was reported by one in 11 Canadian households in 2004. A common response to household food insecurity in Canada over the past 25 years has been to provide food support to relieve hunger. Food support happens through a variety of charitable means, most recently through community-based food programmes. However, only an estimated 20% of Canada's food insecure population take advantage of food support. This research examined the experiences and needs of food-insecure households from the standpoint of those participating in community programmes for food security as well as those not doing so. Three main categories of needs emerged from all households: needs specific to food security (particularly good quality diet), needs regarding the conditions necessary for achieving food security (especially financial access to food) and related needs. Food insecurity was seen as involving a cluster of problems. Clearly, households are demanding more than food for survival; they need a set of conditions that will ensure their regular and sustainable access to a good quality diet.

The Swiss social insurance system: social security and grass-roots democracy

P. Portwich

International Social Security Review, vol. 64, no.1, 2011, p. 95-110

This article presents an overview of the Swiss social insurance system. Founded in 1890, the system is made up of different schemes that provide individuals with insurance coverage against the negative impact of social risks and the loss of income that this may entail. Its different social insurance schemes are covered by social insurance law, and coverage under the schemes is compulsory, either for the population as a whole or for a particular group. Normally the schemes are self-financing, but they are in some cases subsidised by the State. What distinguishes the Swiss system from its European neighbours is the degree of emphasis placed on individual responsibility and the relatively high amount each individual pays as social contributions and taxes and also as out-of-pocket expenses for medical treatment not covered by health insurance. A major key feature of the Swiss system is the country's tradition of political decision-making through grass-roots democracy: through referenda, the Swiss people are directly responsible for the development of the national social security system.

What works best when? The role of active labour market policy programmes in different business cycles

M. Nordlund

International Journal of Social Welfare, vol. 20, 2011, p. 43-54

This study aimed to enhance understanding of whether and in what way active labour market programmes (ALMPs) can serve different purposes depending on the point in the business cycle at which participation occurs. All the long-term unemployed in Sweden were followed on a four year basis, with 1993 (recession) and 1999 (boom) as starting years. Results showed that: 1) ALMP participation is better than independent job search, even during a recession; and 2) ALMP training has more positive effects during a boom than during a recession.

Search Welfare Reform on the Web