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

Enriching resources for the poor: lessons from the Philippines

A. Tiglao-Torres

Asian Social Work and Policy Review, vol.5, 2011, p. 198-217

This paper presents the results of an on-going study of anti poverty programmes in the Philippines. It provides an overview of the poverty situation of the nation (ca 2010), followed by a brief assessment of two anti-poverty programmes, KALAHI-CIDSS and 4Ps. These two programmes apply poverty reduction strategies that focus on the development of human and social capital, rather than economic capital. They involve processes and relationships that aim to improve the other dimensions of poverty, such as lack of access to opportunities or deprivation of basic human necessities. Qualitative and quantitative reports describe generally favourable outcomes from both programmes.

Ethnocentric bias in the comparative study of social welfare: the case of welfare reforms in Hong Kong

R.C.M. Chau and S.W.K. Yu

Journal of Comparative Social Welfare, vol. 27, 2011, p. 233-242

There are two conflicting views on the study of ethnocentric bias in social welfare. The first view holds that bias is caused by the mistaken assumption that Eurocentric worldviews can be universally applied to other cultural groups. However another group of analysts argues that over-emphasising differences between how social welfare is organised in Western and non-Western societies creates bias by excluding the non-Western societies from comparative analysis. This article extends the research literature on ethnocentric bias in the comparative study of social welfare by exploring how the pro-market welfare reforms introduced in Hong Kong are influenced by both Confucianism and Western ideas.

Institutional fragmentation and coordination initiatives in western European welfare states

C. Champion and G. Bonoli

Journal of European Social Policy, vol. 21, 2011, p. 323-334

Since the 1990s, many western European welfare states have undergone a reorientation away from social protection and towards activation. Activation policies have been extended to cover non-working individuals traditionally considered as inactive. As a result, internal divisions within social security systems, until then organised to cope with social risks such as unemployment, invalidity or sickness, have turned out to be obstacles to the success of activation policies. In this context, many OECD countries have initiated reforms aimed at re-organising and better co-ordinating their social security systems for working-age people. However, there are significant differences in the ways in which countries have responded, ranging from the encouragement of inter-agency collaboration to outright mergers of agencies. This paper presents initial hypotheses accounting for this variation.

More than just money: patterns of disaggregated welfare expenditure in the enlarged Europe

K. Kuitto

Journal of European Social Policy, vol. 21, 2011, p. 348-364

This article demonstrates that disaggregated welfare expenditure measures are of considerable importance in elucidating the realities of contemporary welfare policy. It uses this approach to identify patterns of welfare spending in 28 European countries. Results show that welfare states in Europe differ primarily with regard to the extent to which they invest either in income maintenance in old age or in social services and cash transfers to the working age population. Mature welfare states cluster in a way that coincides with the regimes or worlds of welfare identified in previous studies. The welfare policy patterns in Central and East European countries attest to the emergence of a variety of welfare arrangements. Common to all post-communist regimes is a general orientation in the direction of the Bismarckian model and overall lower spending ratios proportionate to GDP compared with most Western European countries.

Rethinking families and community: the color, class and centrality of extended kin ties

N. Gerstel

Sociological Forum, vol.26, 2011, p. 1-20

Much US social policy is based on a set of assumptions about the centrality of marriage and the nuclear family. In contrast, the extended family on which many poorer Americans rely for support is rendered almost invisible. This emphasis on the nuclear family may actually promulgate a vision of family life that dismisses the very social resources and community ties that are critical to the survival strategies of those in need. The author suggests that, far from being the foundation of the community, in fact marriage detracts from social integration and ties to broader networks. The current focus on marriage and the nuclear family and the inattention to the extended family distort and reduce the power of social policy.

Social policy in challenging times: economic crisis and welfare systems

K. Farnsworth and Z. Irving (editors)

Bristol: Policy Press, 2011

There is no precedent to the current economic crisis which looks set to redefine social policy debate throughout the globe. But its effects are not uniform across nations. Bringing together a range of expert contributions, the key lesson to emerge from this book is that 'the crisis' is better understood as a variety of crises, each mediated by national context. Consequently, there is an array of potential trajectories for welfare systems, from those where social policy is regarded as incompatible with the post-crisis economy to those where it is considered essential to future economic growth and security.

Towards developing new partnerships in public services: users as consumers, citizens and/or co-producers in health and social care in England and Sweden

M. Fotaki

Public Administration, vol.89, 2011, p. 933-955

There has been a steady shift towards the marketisation of public services in both England and Sweden despite continuing debates about the merits of competition versus co-operation in both countries. Following the earlier example of Sweden, the New Labour government in England in 2003 moved away from partnerships and collaborative arrangements between state agencies as the preferred model of governance in favour of markets and consumer choice. New mechanisms are emerging in the UK to enable user participation in service planning and design in the context of growing state regulation. This article looks at the possible roles that users might assume in their relationships with market-driven providers and various regulatory agencies of the state. A typology is suggested in which the user assumes the role of consumer, citizen, co-producer and responsibilised agent in various governance arrangements. It is argued that current pro-market policies are likely to encourage a range of temporary alliances or partnerships between users and providers versus the state, or the state and users versus unresponsive providers, which are built up for specific partisan purposes and then abandoned when no longer expedient. They are also likely to create not empowered citizen-consumers, but a subordinated user who has no choice but to select from a limited menu of services over which they have little control.

Welfare state expenditure and inequalities in voluntary association participation

E. van Ingen and T. Van der Meer

Journal of European Social Policy, vol.21, 2011, p. 302-322

The democratic ideal of voluntary participation assumes that citizens from different social groups are all equally likely to participate in associational life. However, in reality certain groups who may wish to participate are unable to do so because of lack of resources: this is called participatory inequality. This article examines the extent to which participatory inequality varies across countries and explores whether welfare state expenditure has a role in its reduction. Across all types of organisation, the greatest inequality in participation occurs between groups with different educational attainment. The gap in participation between people with high and low incomes is very persistent, but the influence of gender is more ambiguous. Women are less involved in interest and leisure organisations, but more involved in activist groups. The analysis also indicates that extensive welfare state expenditures reduce participatory inequalities, with some variation according to type of organisation under study.

Welfare state policy determinants of fertility level: a comparative analysis

A.E. Rovny

Journal of European Social Policy, vol. 21, 2011, p. 335-347

One of the biggest problems facing advanced industrialised countries is low fertility rates, which place future quality of life in jeopardy. Decreasing fertility rates may hinder economic growth and government budgets come under pressure as the number of working age adults, whose taxes pay for pensions and health services, diminishes. This paper examines determinants of fertility rates in 17 OECD countries by performing a pooled time-series analysis covering 1990-99. Results show that active labour market policies and generous work and family policies encourage higher fertility rates, while the presence of employment protection legislation hinders the growth of fertility rates.

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