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

Confronting global poverty and inequality

Global Social Policy, vol.11, 2011, p. 134-151

p> Discussions of global poverty in international organisations and policy recommendations or conditions attached to international aid have failed to produce solutions to the problem. The publication in 2010 of the UNRISD report, Combating Poverty and Inequality: Structural Change, Social Policy and Politics, provides a fresh perspective on the issues, approaching them from a developmental and social policy point of view. The report surveys contemporary approaches to poverty reduction, and finding them inadequate in a number of respects, focuses instead on important institutional, policy and political issues that tend to be ignored by current poverty reduction strategies. This issue of the Global Social Policy Forum features the responses of a number of scholars to the report's findings and recommendations. The commentaries range over the role of households, private sector actors and multilateral organisations, including UNRISD.

The European constitution, welfare states and democracy: the four freedoms vs national administrative discretion

C. Eriksen

Abingdon: Routledge, 2012

This book explores how the right to the free movement of goods, persons, services and capital in the European Union legal order affects welfare states. These 'four freedoms', as they are known, are vital instruments for the protection of a European market unencumbered by internal frontiers. The book explores the relationships and conflicts that have emerged between the European constitution and the legal regulation of mixed economies and markets within welfare-states. In particular, it examines the threat posed to the discretionary powers enjoyed by national governments and administrative authorities.

Labour market- versus life course- related social policies: understanding cross-programme differences

C. Jensen

Journal of European Public Policy, vol. 19, 2012, p. 275-291

This article introduces a distinction between labour market- and life course-related social programmes and discusses why this is important politically. Life course risks such as old age and failing health are largely uncorrelated with income distribution and the average voter will be comparatively favourable towards generous provision. Left- and right-wing governments will therefore enact similar policies. The average voter is less favourably disposed towards labour market related programmes that protect against risks such as unemployment which largely affect low income individuals. Right-wing governments therefore have greater leeway to cut back labour market-related programmes.

Social policy and global poverty: beyond the residual paradigm?

H. Haarstad and A.L. St Clair (guest editors)

Global Social Policy, vol.11, 2011, p. 214-318

Universal social policy was the fundamental tool in the Nordic and many OECD countries during the era of welfare state construction. Such policies led to substantial redistribution of resources to the poor and the nascent middle classes, creating social compacts that promoted inter-class solidarities. This special issue explores the question of the role of such transformative social policies in addressing poverty in the Global South. Contributors argue for a move towards more universally oriented policy regimes that build on shared interests between classes and social groups and construct universally accessible public infrastructures for education, healthcare and employment promotion. Other articles assess the potential for transformative social policy in the Global South, focusing on the strengths and weaknesses of conditional cash transfer programmes in Latin America.

Social policy development and global financial crisis in the open economies of Botswana and Mauritius

M. S. Ulriksen

Global Social Policy, vol. 11, 2011, p.194-213

In the context of increased globalisation, academics have debated the impact of economic integration and trade openness on social policy development. On the one hand there is an efficiency literature whose proponents argue that globalisation forces countries to retrench social policies. Equally, there is a compensation literature that suggests that increased openness, and economic crisis, push countries to expand social protection so as to compensate for hardships. Using the examples of Botswana and Mauritius, two open middle-income countries, this article suggests that both arguments may be correct. The impact of globalisation and economic crisis depends on the character of the welfare system already in place and the organisational interests underpinning it. In Botswana the main social policy thrust is to increase efficiency in spending, whereas issues of job security and compensation are more prevalent in Mauritius.

Welfare states, flexible employment and health: a critical review

I.-H. Kim and others

Health Policy, vol. 104, 2012, p. 99-127

This literature review aimed to identify whether differences in welfare state regimes can account for variations in the relationship between flexible employment and health outcomes. After allocating selected empirical studies into one of six welfare regime types, this systematic review revealed that the comprehensive employment policies of the Scandinavian welfare states may help to buffer an array of negative consequences associated with precarious employment and job insecurity. Whereas precarious workers in Scandinavian countries appeared to experience equal or better health outcomes than permanent workers, precarious workers in Bismarckian, Southern and Anglo-Saxon welfare states consistently experienced worse health outcomes than their permanent counterparts. Work precariousness in Eastern European and East Asian welfare states also appeared to be associated with an increase in adverse health outcomes.

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