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Welfare Reform on the Web (February 2012): Social security - overseas

Comparing unemployment protection and social assistance in 14 European countries: four worlds of protection for people of working age

M. Pfeifer

International Journal of Social Welfare, vol.21, 2012, p. 13-25

The article depicts the measures available to protect the working age population in case of job loss in 14 Western European countries, utilising the following social rights indicators: 1) expenditure on unemployment benefit and social assistance in relation to GDP and standardised for number of recipients; 2) the unemployment rate as an indicator of need; and 3) recipiency rates showing accessibility. Depicting European unemployment benefit and social assistance systems with indicators of expenditure, generosity, problem pressures and social rights yielded the following typology:

  • Countries with extensive safety nets operating in combination with high levels of labour market flexibility and low levels of employment protection legislation
  • Countries with 'liberal' protection (i.e. low to moderate benefit rates) and low levels of unemployment
  • Countries with targeted protection combined with an insider-outsider divide in the labour market
  • Countries with patchy safety nets facing high unemployment, which leave the poor to fend for themselves after the exhaustion of insurance-based unemployment benefit entitlements.

Escaping welfare? Social assistance dynamics in Sweden

O. Bäckman and Å. Bergmark

Journal of European Social Policy, vol. 21, 2011, p. 486-500

Prior to 1990, the average time spent on social assistance in the course of a year in Sweden amounted to just over four months. In 2009, it had risen to 6.2 months, the highest level experienced in Sweden in modern times. This development is at odds with one of the explicit goals of Scandinavian welfare regimes, that of preventing the formation of an excluded underclass. This research analyses predictors of the likelihood of exiting social assistance, the temporal patterns of receipt, and how these vary with respect to different types of exits, using monthly data on social assistance take up for the entire population for 2002-2004. Results suggest that previous work experience facilitates exit, while a history of previous social assistance receipt hinders it. Finally, the likelihood of leaving benefits reduces rapidly over time and after 12 months is very low.

Social services and the deviation from the Bismarckian model in Italy: the absence of a nationwide trend of change

C. Agostini

International Review of Sociology, vol. 21, 2011, p. 469-481

Bismarckian welfare states are built on the following principles: 1) access to social protection is based on labour market position; 2) the benefits consist of earnings-related money transfers; 3) the financial mechanisms are mainly founded on social contributions; and 4) administrative structures are 'para-public'. This article explores the deviation of Italian social assistance policy from the Bismarckian model following the passage of Law 328/2000, which assigned new service provision functions to local governments and affirmed a principle of universal access. The impact of the law has varied in different parts of the country, producing a heterogeneous process of change. This outcome is explained by reference to the importance of traditions and institutional arrangements present at the local level, and the relations among national, regional and local governments.

The threat effect of participation in active labor market programs on job search behavior of migrants in Germany

A. Bergemann and others

International Journal of Manpower, vol. 32, 2011, p. 777-795

Active labour market programmes (ALMP) may affect unemployed individuals' behaviour before they enrol. This study used a recently developed method to explore whether such ex ante effects differ according to ethnic origin in Germany. The ex ante effect of the German active labour market programme system was examined using the novel IZA Evaluation Data Set, which includes self-reported assessments of the variables of interest as well as detailed information on behaviour, attitudes and past outcomes. Results showed that the job search behaviour of Turkish migrants was not affected by the probability of future participation in an ALMP. There was a moderate threat effect for native Germans, while individuals from Central and Eastern Europe, Russia and the former Yugoslavia increased their job search behaviour most to prevent participation.

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