Click here to skip to content

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

Anticipated and unanticipated consequences of work-family policy: insights from international comparative analyses

S. Sweet (guest editor)

Community, Work and Family, vol. 14, 2011, p. 117-256

The papers in this special issue are based primarily on comparative analyses of work-family policies in OECD countries. The articles offer consistent support for expanding resources for working families, to enable them to both continue to provide care and remain integrated in the workforce. However they also explain why some policy effects are not as strong as might have hoped and why effects are sometimes restricted to certain sub-groups of workers or families. The need to consider 'gender arrangements' when designing policies resonates throughout the analyses in the issue. It is also apparent that when different societies implement similar policies they do not necessarily have the same outcomes, and usage is mediated by how the policies are received by employers and workers. Subtle and not so subtle variations in the way that specific policies are formulated (i.e. length/availability of leave, universality, monetary compensation, etc) can also have a significant impact on outcomes.

Converging worlds of welfare?: British and German social policy in the 21st century

J. Clasen (editor)

Oxford: OUP, 2011

This book takes stock of major and recent developments in welfare policy in the UK and Germany. Concentrating on trends since the 1990s, it compares the similarities and differences between the two countries and analyses the degree to which social attitudes towards welfare provision, fairness, and social justice have changed. It focuses on the policy areas that have been particularly affected in recent years and examines change and possible convergence across three domains: family policy, pensions and policies aimed at social and labour market integration. The book covers both public provision and the role of company-based social protection. Based on new empirical survey research as well as focus group interviews, the contributions analyse the ways in which social policies have adapted to common and country-specific challenges, and provide an understanding of the changing welfare landscapes in the UK and Germany.

The dynamics of welfare policy-making in South Korea: social movements as policy entrepreneurs

A. Fiori and S. Kim

Asian Social Work and Policy Review, vol. 5, 2011, p. 61-78

This paper analyses the role of social movements as policy entrepreneurs in the process of welfare policymaking in the wake of democratisation in South Korea. It shows how they played a crucial role in building welfare institutions and promoting welfare policies, using two windows of opportunity: the democratic transition of 1987 and the economic crisis of 1997-1998. In particular, it focuses on the role of social movements in legislating the National Basic Livelihood Security Act of 1999 and in consolidating fragmented health insurance systems in 2000.

Making markets in the welfare state: the politics of varying market reforms

J. Gingrich

Cambridge: CUP, 2011

Over the past three decades, market reforms have transformed public services such as education, health, and care of the elderly. Whereas previous studies present markets as having similar and largely non-political effects, this book shows that political parties structure markets in diverse ways to achieve distinct political aims. Left-wing attempts to sustain the legitimacy of the welfare state are compared with right-wing wishes to limit the state and empower the private sector. Examining a broad range of countries, time periods, and policy areas, the author helps readers make sense of the complexity of market reforms in the industrialized world. p>

Migrants' social protection as a transnational process: public policies and emigrant initiative in the case of Ecuador

P. Boccagni

International Journal of Social Welfare, vol.20, 2011, p. 318-325

This article explores, through a case study of Ecuadorian emigration to Italy, a relatively neglected aspect of migration, namely the interaction between state-led 'external citizenship', i.e. the set of rights expatriates are able to exercise, and emigrants' own initiatives in protecting their families at home, largely through remittances. It provides an internal ethnographic perspective to combine views from 'above' and 'below', from 'here' and 'there'. Attention is given to migrants' practices and support systems (the bottom up) and to the protective policies of their country of origin (the top down). Essentially, social protection is a product of the interaction between these two systems, and it is this that constitutes transnational social welfare.

Shifts in Nordic welfare governance

V. Burau and S.I. Vabo (guest editors) International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 31, 2011, p. 139-235

Over recent years, there has been a growing research literature on welfare governance and change. Building on this body of literature, this special issue: 1) uses elderly care as a case study to explore the complexity of welfare governance by looking at both its horizontal and its vertical dimensions; and 2) focuses on Nordic countries to assess the substantive implications of shifts in welfare governance, notably in terms of universalism. As regards the first point, the studies show evidence of strong decentralisation where policy instruments allow considerable local room for manoeuvre. Organisational arrangements for governance are also highly localised, but over time oscillate between decentralisation and centralisation. As regards the second point, the consequences for universalism, the contributions offer three contrasting scenarios. The first relatively optimistic assessment suggests that while decentralisation challenges territorial equality, in some Nordic countries there seem to be inbuilt self-correcting mechanisms pulling in the opposite direction. The second scenario is more critical and argues that shifts in welfare governance, such as decentralisation and marketisation, challenge universalism, which has become highly contingent on local circumstances. The third scenario is pessimistic and suggests that the shifts in welfare governance challenge universalism on all counts and lead to a wide range of new inequalities among citizens.

Social insecurities and fear of crime: a cross-national study on the impact of welfare state policies on crime-related anxieties

D. Hummelsheim and others

European Sociological Review, vol.27, 2011, p. 327-345

Capitalising on two different lines of contemporary research on fear of crime - the generalised insecurity approach and the analysis of cross-national differences in the extent of fear of crime - this article examines the relationship between social security and anxieties about crime. The results suggest that public insecurities projected into fear of crime can be neutralised by social welfare arrangements. The empirical findings showed that higher social expenditure was associated with lower fear of crime; a higher degree of decommodification of social welfare policy was accompanied by lower levels of crime-related feelings of insecurity. The research also looked at which welfare programmes are most effective in reducing the fear of crime, and found that measures which increase the individual's capacity to cope with problems on their own are more promising than pure cash transfers and income support measures.

Social policy and poverty reduction

K. Hujo and E. Gaia (guest editors)

International Journal of Social Welfare, vol. 20, 2011, p. 230-291

In the midst of an ongoing global economic recession and multiple crises, the international community is calling for renewed efforts to reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The ambitious goal that was set for 2015 was to halve absolute poverty rates globally and to make considerable inroads into reducing other dimensions of poverty such as health, education and gender inequalities. The articles in this themed section explore the role of social policy in poverty reduction and social development. Three key themes are addressed by the five articles in the collection: 1) the role of social protection, in particular cash transfers, in poverty reduction; 2) the importance of labour markets and labour market policies for poverty reduction; and 3) financing welfare policies.

The times they are changing? Crisis and the welfare state

B. Greve (editor)

Social Policy and Administration, vol. 45, 2011, p. 333-505

This special issue looks at how and whether the 2008/09 financial crisis changed welfare states around the world. The main focus is on Europe, but with an eye to Australia and the USA as well. The fiscal crisis appears to have marked a turning point in welfare state development with a move towards a more restrictive stance on public sector spending , at least in relation to societal total production, and a stronger emphasis on public sector deficit than before. In this way the financial crisis has had a profound effect on welfare states, or has been used as an excuse for pursuing dramatic changes in welfare systems in many countries. The balance between the state, the market and civil society in welfare provision is changing, and moving away from the state and more towards the market, although with a central role for the family in particular.

Search Welfare Reform on the Web