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

Between reforms and birth rates: Germany, Japan and family policy discourse

M. Seeleib-Kaiser and T. Toivonen

Social Politics, vol.18, 2011, p. 331-360

The comparative welfare state literature has identified social democracy in combination with organised women's movements as the key driver of employment-oriented family policy in Western democracies. Puzzlingly, however, such policies emerged in Germany and Japan in the 2000s although both countries had long promoted a strong male breadwinner model and had discouraged married women from working. The new family policies were justified through recourse to certain human capital-related arguments. Employing and retaining female workers with high human capital while encouraging them to reproduce (Germany) and raising worker productivity (Japan) became pivotal to legitimisation of the new policies. This article investigates why the reforms were more successful in Germany than in Japan.

New welfare states in East Asia: global challenges and restructuring

G-J.Hwang (editor)

Cheltenham: Elgar, 2011

The fast changing economic climate is creating substantial pressure for welfare state restructuring worldwide. Yet the discussion regarding challenges faced and the responses required has been confined to the 'standard welfare states' in the West. This book examines whether these challenges also apply to the countries in the East, whether these countries have generated different responses to their Western counterparts, and whether they have undergone a process of regime transformation while responding to these pressures.

Policy experiment in Russia: cash-for-babies and fertility change

O.A. Avdeyeva

Social Politics, vol. 18, 2011, p. 361-386

Russia is facing a steep population decline framed by below replacement birth rates and a surge in mortality rates. The government has responded by introducing a range of policies designed to encourage women to have more than one child. These include the new Maternity Capital programme which entitles mothers of two or three children to receive in-kind services worth about $10,000, an increase in the monthly childcare allowances and the introduction of several one-off allowances paid on the birth of a child. This article evaluates the capacity of the new pro-natalist policies to affect women's reproductive behaviour using a socio-institutionalist framework. It concludes that while efforts to improve fertility are quite aggressive, the new policies do not challenge gendered hierarchies in the public or the private spheres, which will further depress fertility rates.

Social justice in the OECD: how do the member states compare?

D. Schraad-Tischler

Berlin: Bertelsmann Foundation, 2011

A cross-national comparison of social justice in the OECD shows considerable variation in the extent to which this principle is developed in these market-based democracies. According to the methodology applied in this study, Iceland and Norway are the most socially just countries. Turkey, which ranks among the bottom five in each of the six targeted dimensions, is the OECD's least socially just country.


What parties are and what parties do: partisanship and welfare state reform in an era of austerity

H. Finseraas and K. Vernby

Socio-Economic Review, vol. 9, 2011, p. 613-638

The New Politics perspective proposes that partisan differences in government have little influence on welfare state reform in an age of austerity. On the other hand, power resources theory argues that the political mobilisation of the lower socio-economic classes is still of paramount importance for welfare state development. This paper argues that an emphasis on the actual degree of ideological difference between left and right can move the debate forward. The research found that party ideological differences did not decline between the early 1970s and 2003. An analysis of vote choice in the late 1990s shows that party ideological differences are associated with a stronger income stratification of the vote. Thus the power resources theory's depiction of electoral politics continues to be valid. Finally the research demonstrates that, given a sufficiently high level of party polarisation, centre/right governments continue to have a negative impact on welfare state development.

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