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

Assessing the structure of small welfare states

G. Bertram

London: Commonwealth Secretariat, 2011

Historically, the welfare state evolved as the most efficient policy response to caring for a large, homogeneous population. This traditional model, however, loses importance as population size falls below 3-4 million, especially for states where a significant number of the population migrate and send remittances home, and where the country is the recipient of overseas aid. Facilitating the international mobility of people therefore becomes central to social policy and insofar as the welfare state occurs, it tends to be focused on the labour market. This paper examines how the characteristics of small states influence their pursuit of a welfare state. Many of the small states discussed have not previously featured in mainstream thinking about the relationship between country size and the extent of the welfare state.

Between the cultural foundations of welfare and welfare attitudes: the possibility of an in-between level conception of culture for the cultural analysis of welfare

N.K. Jo

Journal of European Social Policy, vol.21, 2011, p. 5-19

This paper aimed to contribute to the development of empirical cultural analysis of welfare by examining the possibility of conceptualising culture at an in-between level between the abstract level where culture is a foundation for welfare and the concrete level where the culture reflects unstable welfare attitudes. Drawing on the welfare culture approach and the differentiation between universal, situational and societal values, it suggests that societal values are more fruitful cultural dimensions, that they are neither determinants (cultural foundations) nor dependants (welfare attitudes) of an economic and political context. This hypothesis is supported by analysis of data extracted from all three waves of the European Values Study and other sources for about 20 welfare states. The results show that public opinion about the causes of poverty and policy decisions about the proportion of the welfare budget allocated to unemployment tend to be be dependant on cultural context as an aggregated form of societal values.

Determinants of welfare service provision after the golden age

C. Jensen

International Journal of Social Welfare, vol.20, 2011, p. 125-134

Welfare services, or benefits in kind, have been neglected for many years in the mainstream welfare state research literature, which has focused on cash transfers. This article provides one of the first systematic empirical assessments of the determinants of change in welfare service provision after the Golden Age of expansion came to an end in the 1970s. It begins by outlining eight hypotheses on the determinants of welfare service provision. The factors tap ideological, institutional, and neo-functionalist arguments and are representative of the diversity of the mainstream welfare state literature. To test the potential determinants, data for 18 countries over 22 years was collected and analysed in a time-series, with cross-section regression analysis studying the year-to-year changes in the level of welfare service provision. Two major findings emerged from the study: 1) what is normally viewed as the main determinant of high levels of welfare service provision, namely left wing party strength, appears to have lost out to other non-ideological factors, such as deindustrialisation, female labour force participation and rising public attention; and 2) different factors cause change in health and social care.

Economic voting and welfare programmes: evidence from the American states

M.M. Singer

European Journal of Political Research, vol. 50, 2011, p. 479-503

It is generally agreed that citizens desire governments to manage the economy effectively. However, they also care about government performance with respect to crime, social policy, foreign affairs, etc. This article focuses on the implications of the hypothesis that increases in economic vulnerability cause voters to give greater emphasis to the government's economic record but protections provided by the welfare state should reduce the economy's salience. American state elections provide the set of observations used to test this hypothesis and show that anti-poverty programmes reduce the linkage between economic outcomes and electoral ones. Thus at least some welfare programmes provide protection for both vulnerable citizens and vulnerable governments. The programmes that reduce attention to the economy are those that provide a minimum safety net and that are long term in nature, while programmes whose benefits vary across recipients depending on their previous wage and employment situation and that are short term do not seem to alleviate voter anxiety during an economic downturn.

Non-spatial government policies and regional income inequality in Brazil

R. da M Silveira-Neto and C.R. Azzoni

Regional Studies, vol. 45, 2011, p. 453-461

This paper presents evidence that permits a better understanding of the forces behind the Brazilian regional per capita income inequality reduction after 1995. It highlights the roles of regional labour productivity convergence and non-spatial government policies, mainly minimum wage rises and government income transfers to poor families through Bolsa Família. By decomposing changes in the Gini coefficients according to different sources of income, the research shows that the income transfer programme and the national minimum wage policy are together responsible for more than one quarter of the total income inequality reduction.

Welfare residualism: a comparative study of the Basic Livelihood Security systems in China and South Korea

Q. Gao and others

International Journal of Social Welfare, vol. 20, 2011, p. 113-124

Developments in the market economy in South Korea and China have led to growing income inequality and increasing social welfare needs among those left behind. In response to these needs and to ensure a stable environment for economic growth, both China and South Korea have developed and expanded a public assistance programme, the Basic Livelihood Security (BLS) system to provide a safety net for poor families. This article compares the establishment histories, regulations, implementation and antipoverty outcomes of BLS across the two countries. It finds that both systems are marked by limited coverage and strict means-testing with stigmatising application procedures. As benefits levels are quite low, and only a limited number of eligible families receive them, neither system is particularly effective in achieving its original antipoverty goals.

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