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

'Ageing out': when policy and social orders intrude on the 'disordered' realities of young mothers

J. Shoveller and others

Youth and Society, vol. 43, 2011, p.1355-1380

This study explored he experiences and perspectives of teenage mothers in rural Canada and their service providers regarding the ways in which various sociocultural conditions and policy structures affect their lives and those of their children. 'Ageing out' was identified as an important example of the intersection between social context and policy. 'Ageing out' occurs when state-provided income/educational supports are withdrawn because a young mother has reached the age of majority. Ageing out within unsupportive social contexts compounds the negative consequences of early motherhood, especially in relation to housing, parenting and employment. The findings show how some policy interventions have negative consequences that exacerbate health and social inequities.

Changing social equality: the Nordic welfare model in the 21st century

J. Kvist and others (editors)

Bristol: Policy Press, 2012

The Nordic countries have been able to raise living standards and curb inequalities without compromising economic growth. But with social inequalities on the rise how do they fare when compared to countries with alternative welfare models, such as the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Germany? Taking a comparative perspective, this book casts new light on changing inequalities in Europe.

Disappointing poverty trends: is the social investment state to blame?

F. Vandenbroucke and K. Vleminckx

Journal of European Social Policy, vol.21, 2011, p. 450-471

The outcomes of the Open Method of Co-ordination on Inclusion promulgated at the Lisbon Summit have been disappointing in that poverty has not decreased in EU Member States. This article formulates and discusses two explanations of why the social investment strategy developed at the Lisbon Summit may be responsible, at least in part, for disappointing poverty trends. The social investment paradigm may have shifted resources away from programmes that are more redistributive to programmes that are less so and it may have contributed to a recommodification and retrenchment of unemployment benefits. The authors do not find these explanations convincing and conclude that the jury is still out on the social investment state.

One-stop shops for social welfare: the adaptation of an organizational form in three countries

J. Askim and others

Public Administration, vol.89, 2011, p.1451-1468

European countries have come under heavy criticism in recent years for poor coordination of services such as employment, national insurance and social services. One-stop-shops have been introduced to achieve the vision of seamless and integrated social welfare services. This article focuses on how the one-stop-shop model has been adapted in different contexts. The cases studied are applications of the on-stop-shop model in Denmark, Norway and Britain. In Denmark, municipal job centres provide information, advice, social benefits and casework for the unemployed via a single access point. In Norway, the 'NAV' reform merged employment and national insurance administrations and partnered the new structure with municipal benefits and social services. In Britain, the Jobcentre Plus system provides access to training, employment and benefits via a single gateway.

Flexicurity, employment protection and the jobs crisis

J. Heyes

Work, Employment and Society, vol. 25, 2011, p. 642-657

In responding to rising unemployment following the economic crisis of 2008/09, the European Commission has urged member states to adopt policies based on the concept of flexicurity. Member states have been encouraged to weaken employment protection measures while maintaining an adequate safety net of unemployment benefits and promoting the employability of vulnerable workers such as young people. This article demonstrates that those countries which have maintained relatively strong employment protection measures have tended to experience less labour market disruption than those which have weakened employment protection. It also suggests that, while there has been some convergence in employment and social protection policy in Europe, the trend has been towards less security as welfare benefits and access to training have been cut back.

The paradox of the social investment state: growth, employment and poverty in the Lisbon era

B. Cantillon

Journal of European Social Policy, vol.21, 2011, p. 432-449

On the eve of the elaboration of policies designed to help reach the Europe 2020 target of lifting 20 million people out of poverty, it is important to take stock of the Lisbon agenda for growth, employment and social inclusion. This article reflects on why, despite growth in average incomes, increased employment rates and high levels of social spending, poverty rates have not fallen, particularly among the working-age population. The following contributory trends were identified: 1) rising employment has benefited workless households only marginally; 2) poverty among unemployed and workless households has increased in almost all member states; and 3) new work-related spending, which tends to be less pro-poor, has increased, while the generosity of traditional passive income support has not.

Philosophical and religious influences on social welfare policy in the United States: the ongoing effect of Reformed theology and social Darwinism on attitudes towards the poor and social welfare policy and practice

M.E. Martin

Journal of Social Work, vol. 12, 2012, p. 51-64

This article explores various philosophical and religious influences on poor relief in the United States from the colonial era to the present day. The fatalistic approach of social Darwinism, and Calvin's concept of Predestination and the Protestant work ethic became deeply embedded in American culture and were used to justify a laissez-faire approach to social welfare throughout most of the 19th and 20th centuries. A resurgence of social Darwinism and secularised Reformed theology is reflected in contemporary political and economic movements, including the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) programme developed in response to welfare reform legislation passed in the mid-1990s.

The politics of ideas in welfare state transformation: Christian Democracy and the reform of family policy in Germany

T. Fleckenstein

Social Politics, vol. 18, 2011, p. 543-571

Social policy in Germany has traditionally been oriented towards supporting the male breadwinner family. The expansion of employment-centred family policies under the Christian Democrat-led Grand Coalition 2005-2009 was surprising, since that party had traditionally been committed to the male breadwinner model and corresponding family policies. The introduction of a new earnings-related parental leave benefit in 2007/08 and the significant expansion of childcare provision in 2008 indicated a radical break with the traditional policy trajectory of the conservative welfare state. This article discusses the Christian Democrats' electoral rationale for this modernisation of family policy, the role of political entrepreneurship and intraparty political conflicts over the new paradigm.

Reconstruction amid deconstruction: or why we need more of the social in European social models

J. Rubery

Work, Employment and Society, vol. 25, 2011, p. 658-674

Two key arguments are presented in this article. The first is that European social models are being asked to meet more and more varied demands for help. These new needs derive from secular trends, for example towards an ageing society, from changes in the aspirations and behaviour of citizens and from the reduced reliability of support from employers or family. Responses to these new needs vary, according to existing gaps in provision and political will, but across many countries the state has been moving into new areas of social support and in some cases developing more hybrid welfare systems. The second key argument is that the processes of reconstruction of social models to meet new needs and retrenchment to implement neoliberalism, are in many cases two sides of the same coin. Reforms to meet new needs may be implemented in a neoliberal form, and neoliberal reforms of labour markets and the increased penetration of markets into new areas generate new needs to which the state may have to respond.

Role of social welfare in European suicide prevention

A. Yur'yev and others

International Journal of Social Welfare, vol. 21, 2012, p. 26-33

The aims of this study were to: 1) assess the relationship between suicide mortality and social expenditure in 26 European countries; 2) explore attitudes to welfare systems and their relationship to suicide mortality; and 3) compare attitudes to welfare provision in Eastern and Western Europe. The World Health Organisation suicide data and OECD social expenditure data for 1980-2005 were used together with data on attitudes to welfare systems from the European Social Survey. Results showed that: 1) higher social expenditure was inversely related to suicide mortality in most countries; 2) confidence in welfare provision appeared to have a suicide preventative effect; and 3) confidence in welfare provision was stronger in Western than in Eastern Europe.

Social policy and public opinion: how the ideological direction of spending influences public mood

C. Ellis and C. Faricy

Journal of Politics, vol. 73, 2011, p. 1095-1110

The US federal government finances both public social programmes - through direct spending via budgetary appropriations - and private benefits - through indirect spending known as 'tax expenditures'. This article develops a general theory of the relationship between social policy and public opinion in the United States, encompassing mass responsiveness to both direct and indirect social spending. Using novel measures of social spending, the research shows that increases in indirect social expenditures are treated by the public as conservative public policy and move public preferences in a liberal direction. Direct social appropriations, by contrast, are viewed as liberal policy and tend to make public preferences more conservative.

The times they are changing? crisis and the welfare state

B. Greve (editor)

Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012

Some have argued that the concept of the modern welfare state has been in crisis since at least the oil-price shocks of the 1970s. Yet until the recent global financial crisis, the welfare states of many countries were relatively stable-or even expanding. This book presents a series of readings from international policy researchers that examine the effects of the recent financial crisis on welfare states around the world. It provides comprehensive and in depth coverage of changes in welfare states as a result of the financial crisis. Contributors include policy researchers and academics from several countries in Western Europe, as well as the South Pacific and USA. Various national and regional case studies reveal the profound impact the financial crisis is having on policies implemented by welfare states as well as on our perceptions of the welfare state as a concept.

The unequal benefits of activation: an analysis of the social distribution of family policy among families with young children

J. Ghysels and W. Van Lancker

Journal of European Social Policy, vol. 21, 2011, p. 472-485

European family policy in the late 20th century combined distribution of cash benefits to all families with children with activation measures to encourage dual earnership, such as expansion of childcare provision and parental leave entitlements. However, dual earner households tend to be concentrated in higher socio-economic groups, and there is concern that lower-income families are not benefiting from the new measures. This research confirms that many EU member states have universal child benefit, but that the use of childcare services and parental leave is unequally distributed amongst social strata defined by income and education. This situation warrants concern as it is generally agreed that use of childcare and parental leave is indispensible if both parents are to engage in paid work, and that paid employment is crucial for the inclusion of all citizens and for the survival of the welfare state. The second part of the article presents a case study of the situation in Flanders which shows that the socially selective character of subsidised formal childcare services and parental leave undoes the redistributive effects of child benefit and redirects spending to the better off.

The welfare state and the crisis: the case of Greece

M. Matsaganis

Journal of European Social Policy, vol. 21, 2011, p. 501-512

This paper is a preliminary attempt to explore the causes and effects of the Greek financial crisis from the perspective of social policy and the welfare state. Specifically, the paper argues that the relationship between Greece's severe fiscal crisis and the country's social protection system is ambivalent. The welfare state was among the causes of the crisis through failures including huge deficits in key programmes such as pensions and health. On the other hand, the crisis and the measures to counter it deprived the welfare state of resources. Finally, social protection can help cope with the consequences of the crisis, but enhancing its capacity to do so will require reconfiguration and proper funding of social safety nets.

Welfarism and multidimensionality of welfare state legitimacy: evidence from the Netherlands, 2006

W. van Oorschot and B. Meuleman

International Journal of Social Welfare, vol. 21, 2012, p. 79-93

This article reports on a study on whether it is possible for individual citizens who emphatically endorse a substantial role for government in the provision of welfare could, at the same time, be critical about specific aspects of such provision. Analysis using confirmatory factor analysis and a 2006 Dutch survey showed that welfare legitimacy is indeed multidimensional, i.e. that opinions tend to cluster together in several dimensions referring to different aspects of the welfare state. There is partial evidence for the existence of a single, underlying welfarism dimension which consists of views regarding the range of government responsibility, as well as the idea that these government provisions do not have unfavourable repercussions in economic or moral spheres.

Whose poor? Social welfare and local political boundaries

J.-P. Tabin and others

European Journal of Social Work, vol. 14, 2011, p. 463-477

In Western countries, poor relief has been organised by local authorities since the Middle Ages. To be entitled to help, the poor have needed a right of abode or settlement in a given parish or commune. This article explores how the populations entitled to claim financial and social assistance in Switzerland were defined and designated from the end of the nineteenth century to the present day. The research is based on a systematic content analysis of debates on the laws and regulations governing public assistance in the federal Parliament, in the Parliaments of two cantons, and the municipal councils of four towns.

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