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

Continuity and change in Swedish family policy reforms

P. Tunberger and W. Sigle-Rushton

Journal of European Social Policy, vol. 21, 2011, p. 225-237

Swedish welfare state arrangements have traditionally created incentives for high levels of female employment through extensive government provision of childcare facilities. In 2006 a centre-right coalition government announced substantial changes to this approach. With the stated aim of providing families with more choice, it introduced three new policies with apparently contradictory incentive structures: an equality bonus for shared parental leave, a cash benefit for home childcare and a tax deduction for the purchase of domestic services. This paper sets out to examine whether and to what extent these three policies change incentives regarding employment and choice of childcare for parents of young children, and whether these incentives differ by income level.

Dismissed intergenerational support? New social risks and the economic welfare of young adults

K. Majamaa

Journal of Youth Studies, vol.14, 2011, p. 729-743

This article discusses how changes in the labour market, the welfare state and the family have affected the economic situation of young adults in Finland. Youth unemployment is high, and the purchasing power of basic social security benefits, such as unemployment benefit, the student grant and the child home-care allowance has decreased significantly since the recession of the 1990s. Consequently, it is more difficult for young people leaving home to maintain their living standards. This study shows, however, that families have increased the financial support they give to their young adult children as the support available from the welfare state has been diminishing.

Gender equality and modernization of public sector employment

H. Conley, D. Kerfoot and C. Thornley (guest editors)

Gender, Work and Organisation, vol. 18, 2011, p. 439-570

The articles in this special issue explore ways in which public sector modernisation worldwide is gendered and what it means for public sector workers, including those in health, education and social care. Modernisation remains associated with decentralisation of management functions put under considerable pressure by centrally imposed targets, as it was in the 1980s and 1990s. This combination is now, as it was then, largely toxic to equality issues, which are often ignored, circumvented and treated as paper exercises by public sector managers in the face of more pressing 'hard' targets. An important second theme that emerges from the papers is the ways in which women workers continue to be exploited by providing unacknowledged skills and work, together with the blurring of the boundaries between waged and unwaged work and their disproportionate responsibilities in the home.

Images of welfare in law and society: the British welfare state in comparative perspective

D. Wincott

Journal of Law and Society, vol.38, 2011, p. 343-375

Conventional wisdom has it that that the welfare state was invented in Britain in 1945 and thence travelled round the world. This article develops a revisionist historical critique of this conventional wisdom, drawing together comparative welfare state analysis, law and society scholarship and British political cartoons. It is concluded that: 1) the British welfare state has always been comparatively parsimonious; 2) the idea of the welfare state had its origins outside of the UK and this terminology was adopted relatively late and with some ambivalence in public debate and academic analysis; and 3) that welfare rights were never embedded in the British welfare state.

Migration and the welfare state: political-economy policy formation

A. Razin, E. Sadka and B. Suwankiri

London: MIT Press, 2011

Nobel laureate economist Milton Friedman once noted that free immigration cannot coexist with a welfare state. A welfare state with open borders might turn into a haven for poor immigrants, which would place such a fiscal burden on the state that native-born voters would support less-generous benefits or restricted immigration, or both. And yet a welfare state with an aging population might welcome young skilled immigrants. The preferences of the native-born population toward migration depend on the skill and age composition of the immigrants, and migration policies in a political-economy framework may be tailored accordingly. This book examines how social benefits-immigrations political economy conflicts are resolved, with an empirical application to data from Europe and the developed countries, integrating elements from population, international, public, and political economics into a unified static and dynamic framework.

State-assisted integration, but not for all: Norwegian welfare services and labour migration from the new EU member states

M. Valenta and Z. Strabc

International Social Work, vol. 54, 2011, p.663-680

Following EU enlargement in 2004, Norway saw an influx of labour migrants from central and Eastern Europe. This group was originally regarded as self-reliant and only temporarily resident in Norway, but has now fallen on hard times. Action needs to be taken to prevent the permanent marginalisation and welfare dependence of labour migrants who stay in Norway long term. In conformity with the established Nordic welfare tradition, service providers argue for state sponsored assistance to empower labour migrants, increase their employability and prevent future welfare dependence, beginning with extensive free language training.

A theory of fairness and social welfare

M. Fleurbaey and F. Maniquet

Cambridge: CUP, 2011

The definition and measurement of social welfare have been a vexed issue for the past century. This book suggests how to evaluate the economic situation of a society in a way that gives priority to the worse-off and that respects each individual's preferences over his or her own consumption, work, leisure and so on. This approach resonates with the current concern to go 'beyond the GDP' in the measurement of social progress. Compared to technical studies in welfare economics, this book emphasizes constructive results rather than paradoxes and impossibilities, and shows how one can start from basic principles of efficiency and fairness and end up with concrete evaluations of policies. Compared to more philosophical treatments of social justice, this book is more precise about the definition of social welfare and reaches conclusions about concrete policies and institutions only after a rigorous derivation from clearly stated principles.

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