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

Antipoverty programmes in Venezuela

A. Daguerre

Journal of Social Policy, vol.40, 2011, p. 835-852

This article investigates the extent to which antipoverty programmes known as Social Missions in Hugo Chávez's Venezuela represent a real rupture in Venezuelan social policies. It argues that, despite real and positive changes compared to the Punto Fijo period (1958-1998), the Social Missions have not yet been integrated into the state apparatus. The lack of institutional capacity, which was one of the major flaws of the Punto Fijo regime, continues to characterise the Venezuelan state under Chávez, suggesting a strong underlying pattern of path dependency. In particular, the government under Chávez has been unable to implement a comprehensive reform of the social insurance system, which has been allowed to atrophy. Moreover, the social agenda is driven by contradictory ideological imperatives. On the one hand, the present government wants to place wellbeing and human value at the heart of its 'Bolivarian Project', but on the other hand it emphasises very individualist and moralistic values. This is part of the legacy of the 1990s Social Policy Agenda that has shaped most conditional social programmes in Latin America. Indeed, most of the Missions reproduce crucial components of the antipoverty programmes initiated in the early 1990s under the presidency of Carlos Pérez. p>

Cash transfers and poverty reduction in Chile

C.A. Agostini and P.H. Brown

Journal of Regional Science, vol.51, 2011, p. 604-625

Poverty in Chile has fallen dramatically over the last 20 years, possibly due to a series of government cash and in-kind transfers to poor households. This paper uses the poverty mapping methodologies formalised by Elbers and colleagues to assess the impacts of the transfers on poverty rates at county level. A comparison of estimates of poverty before and after transfers shows that transfers result in economically and statistically significant reductions in county-level poverty rates across Chile. However, the estimated reductions in headcount ratios range from 0 to 67 percent in rural areas and from 0 to 25 percent in urban areas, indicating that there is considerable heterogeneity in the effectiveness of cash transfers in bringing people out of poverty.

Did PRWORA's mandatory school attendance policy increase attendance among targeted teenage girls?

J. Kim and M. Joo

Children and Youth Services Review, vol. 33, 2011, p. 1616-1623

The Welfare Reform Act of 1996 prohibited a state from using any part of its TANF grant to fund assistance for teenage parents unless they were in education or training. In response to this policy, many states broadened the school attendance requirement and imposed it on all teenagers in TANF families, including those who were not parents. This research examined whether the reform has played any significant role in improving school attendance among the teenagers it targeted. The findings indicated that the reform, overall, did not have a positive impact on school attendance. On the contrary, the policy was associated with a small but significant reduction in school attendance of US-born disadvantaged teenage girls between 1996 and 1999 and had essentially no effects on the target population thereafter.

Early savings for children's higher education: a comparison between savers and non-savers in a Child Development Account program

D. Okech, T.D. Little and T. Williams-Shanks

Children and Youth Services Review, vol. 33, 2011, p. 1592-1598

Initiatives designed to help low income families save and build assets have been implemented in a number of countries. These programmes include asset building accounts for children and young people, frequently known as Child Development Accounts (CDAs). Such accounts frequently start with an initial deposit from a private or public funding source, are eligible for matching funds, are managed by a financial institution, are sheltered from means-testing and are tax benefited. Typically, young people are able to access such accounts at the age of 18. This study compared the characteristics of parents who made early deposits into CDAs for their young children with peers who did not make such deposits and assessed the impact of economic strain, parenting stress and personal mastery on saving behaviour. The measurement model showed that differences in levels of economic strain, parenting stress and personal mastery did not explain why some parents saved while others did not.

Exit Bismarck, enter dualism? Assessing contemporary German labour market policy

J. Clasen and A. Goerne

Journal of Social Policy, vol. 40, 2011, p. 795-810

From 2005, under the Hartz reforms, unemployed people in Germany have received assistance either through unemployment insurance, which provides earnings-related benefits and job search schemes for contributors, or through unemployment assistance which offers basic social protection only. Some commentators have interpreted the reforms as signalling a move from Bismarckian insurance principles to a Beveridgean basic security approach within German labour market policy. Others have interpreted the changes as consolidating dual or segmented labour markets which offer privileges for insiders while marginalising employment conditions and opportunities for outsiders. This article contests both positions.

How effective can efficient be? Social assistance in Kosovo and what it means for children

K. Roelen and F. Gassmann

Journal of European Social Policy, vol.21, 2011, p. 238-252

Kosovo has suffered political and civil unrest for more than two decades, leaving many of its people poor and vulnerable. Since the installation of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo in 1999, a number of new social protection schemes have been put in place to support the most vulnerable groups. These include a pension scheme, social and family services and a social assistance scheme. Social assistance benefits are targeted on poor families based on hybrid eligibility criteria, including categorical targeting, an asset test and a means (income) test. This paper offers a detailed assessment of the effectiveness of the social assistance scheme from a child-centred perspective. Findings suggest that the scheme is highly efficient but excludes many poor children. Poverty impacts are limited and the scheme does not resonate well with its recipients.

Quasi-markets and service delivery flexibility following a decade of employment assistance reform in Australia

M. Considine, J.M. Lewis and S. O'Sullivan

Journal of Social Policy, vol.40, 2011, p. 811-833

In 1998 the emergence of a post-Fordist welfare state was widely anticipated. It was hypothesised that this new system would be decentralised, flexible, client-centred and co-produced. This paper explores whether the anticipated changes materialised in the case of Australian employment assistance services based on survey data gathered in 1998 and 2008. Contrary to expectations, the private agencies contracted to deliver employment services did not generate different service delivery styles, their frontline staff did not exercise discretion in tailoring services to client needs, and the trend over time was towards high levels of standardisation for both staff and jobseekers. Contracting out of services did not produce a new industry of service innovators with new approaches to working with clients, but a 'herd' of profit maximisers who were highly responsive to threats to their viability and who embraced standardisation of services as a way of minimising risks.

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