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

Do social allowance transfers crowd out private transfers? An analysis of responses among elderly households in Taiwan

J. C.-C. Chuang

International Journal of Social Welfare, vol. 21, 2012, p. 194-202

Since 1995, Taiwan has provided two types of social allowances to older adults: the old age allowance (OAA) and the old age farmer allowance (OAFA). In 2003, the benefit levels for both schemes were equal at around US $100 per month. Since 2003, old age farmer allowance benefits increased to US $200, while benefits for old age allowance recipients have remained the same. This research investigated whether old age benefit schemes have reduced the level of private transfers received from children. Results showed a crowding-out effect in that every dollar of OAFA transfer was balanced by a 0.92 dollar reduction in private transfers from children. In contrast, a dollar drop in OAA transfer has been matched by an 0.87-dollar increase in private transfers. Thus private giving neutralises the distributional impact of public transfers.

'Fast-track' strategies in long-term public disability programs around the world

D. Rajnes

Social Security Bulletin, vol. 72, no.1, 2012, p. 79-108

This article explores the US domestic and international experience with 'fast-track' procedures in the determination process of public disability programmes. Fast-track procedures target applicants with severe disabilities who are likely to receive favourable determinations. Disability programmes in the USA and several other countries have adopted a variety of fast-track procedures. Those procedures reduce delays, which negatively affect individuals and their families, and may help governments with disability caseload management.

Financial hardship and emergency relief in Vicoria

B. Engels, R. Nissim and K. Landvogt

Australian Social Work, vol. 65, 2012, p. 54-72

Welfare benefits in Australia have fallen so far behind living costs that many claimants are forced to seek emergency relief. Some are turned away because charities are unable to meet the level of demand that has resulted from the rise in living costs being experienced in some parts of Australia. In order to challenge assertions by political leaders that welfare recipients are scroungers, this research investigated emergency relief use in Victoria in 2007 and 2008. The main groups of emergency relief users were lone mothers, single men. disabled people and families on low incomes who were simply unable to live on the welfare payments provided by the Commonwealth government, especially if occupying private rented accommodation.

A fistful of euros: is the German one-euro job workfare scheme effective for participants?

K. Hohmeyer and J.Wolff

International Journal of Social Welfare, vol. 21, 2012,p. 174-185

Activating welfare recipients has been a major objective of recent reforms in several OECD countries. Germany introduced a workfare programme, one-euro jobs, in 2005 as part of such a reform. These are temporary, mainly part-time jobs in the non-profit sector. This research estimated the effects of one-euro job participation on the employment chances of different participant groups using propensity score matching. Results showed that participation slightly improved the medium-term employments prospects for women but nor for men. Participation reduced the employment rate of young people under 25, but raised it for some of the older participant groups. One-euro jobs were effective for participants who had been jobless for several years but ineffective for participants who had been recently employed.

The G2P opportunity: five reasons why now is the time to leverage social protection to enable financial inclusion and savings amongst the poorest

J.M. Zimmerman and J. Holmes

Enterprise Development and Microfinance, vol. 23, 2012, p. 38-53

Cash transfers to the poor deployed by national governments and some international donors have become increasingly successful in reaching the most marginalised. They have by-and-large replaced traditional in-kind aid and are increasingly being delivered using digital technologies. Digitised delivery of social protection payments could be linked to mechanisms that either enable or encourage savings. Linking social protection payments to savings opportunities benefits financial intermediaries who gain new clients and regular infusions of cash; recipients who gain a nest egg they can use for investments or as a defence against adverse events; and governments which achieve improved efficiency in payments through electronic delivery and multiplier effects through enhanced development impact.

Non-demand for social rights: a new challenge for social action in France

P. Warin

Journal of Poverty and Social Justice, vol. 20, 2012, p. 41-53

France, like other countries including the UK and the US, is confronting the issue of non-take-up of social welfare benefits by eligible citizens who do not apply for them. In response, innovative ways of identifying populations not claiming benefits are being developed, while mechanisms to encourage take-up based on individual preferences are being tested. These initiatives aim to restore individuals' ability to consider themselves as legitimate applicants for public welfare. This article presents a case study of how a local social action centre or CCAS addressed the problem of non-demand for social rights.

The political implications of cash transfers in Sub-Saharan Africa: shaking up the social system

A. Hurrell and I. MacAuslan

Public Management Review, vol. 14, 2012, p. 255-272

Following their success in Latin America, cash transfer programmes are rapidly gaining currency as a principal tool for poverty reduction and social protection in Africa. To date, the implications of cash transfers for national or local politics in Africa have not been given much academic or policymaking attention. This article proposes a set of political consequences of cash transfers that could be analysed and gives some examples from Oxford Policy Management's evaluation and design work in Kenya. It discusses the potential effects on the political and social fabric of targeting, payment systems, and the overall process of cash transfers. Targeting and payment systems have particularly striking consequences. Targeting involves the division of communities into recipients and non-recipients, and this process has consequences for their relations, and for relations with those charged with undertaking the division. Different payment systems create different requirements for civil registration, possibilities for fraud, and opportunities for connectedness that can all have far-reaching political implications.

Reassembling social security: a survey of pensions and health care reforms in Latin America

C. Mesa-Lago

Oxford: OUP, 2012

The reform of social security pensions and healthcare is a key issue for the modern world, and in many ways Latin America has acted as a social laboratory for the reform of these systems. Based on the reforms that took place in Chile in 1981, most pension and health care systems in the region have seen change, and been fully or partially privatized. Many other countries considering reform of their own systems have been influenced by the policies implemented in Latin America. Yet despite the importance and influence of these reforms, until now there has not been an integrated and comprehensive analysis of the changes and their effects. This book fills the vacuum in the literature with a systematic comparison of pension and healthcare reforms in the 20 Latin American countries. It identifies reform models, and elaborates taxonomies to facilitate their understanding and comparison. Some key features of the reforms to emerge are: labour force and population coverage, equity and solidarity, sufficiency and quality of benefits, state regulation, competition and degree of privatization, efficiency and administrative costs, social participation in management, financing sources and long-term sustainability. Effects of the reforms on social security principles are measured based on recent standardized statistics and other information. Goals or assumptions of the reforms are contrasted with actual outcomes, and the pros and cons of private versus public provision assessed. Detailed policy recommendations are offered to correct current problems and improve pension and healthcare systems.

Single parents' subjective wellbeing over the welfare to work transition

K. E. Cook

Social Policy and Society, vol. 11, 2012, p. 143-155

This is the first longitudinal study to examine the subjective wellbeing (SWB) of single parents in the course of their welfare to work transition. An increase in work hours failed to provide improvements in SWB and, for those who were not working at baseline, actually reduced SWB. These results are counter to the individual benefits described by the Australian government prior to the introduction of the welfare to work programme, and which were used as the rationale for its implementation.

Social insurance and children: the relationship between Social Security, economic well-being and family context among child recipients

C.R. Tamborini and E. Cupito

Journal of Children and Poverty, vol. 18, 2012, p. 1-22

The US Social Security system, while typically viewed as a retirement or disability programme for adults, provides income support to children of insured workers who die, become disabled or retire. An underlying rationale of the programme is to protect children against the risk of certain life events happening to a wage-earning parent that can have a negative effect on income. Social Security is a work-related entitlement paid to families without regard to current income or assets. This study examines the relationship between Social Security and the economic well being of child recipients, and the programme's linkages with family context using the 2004 Survey of Income and Program Participation matched to Social Security Administration benefit records. Findings reveal that Social Security plays an important role in mitigating economic insecurity among children deprived of a wage-earning parent through disability, death or retirement. Family structure, earnings and employment status are identified as key factors moderating the effect of Social Security on child recipients' financial circumstances.

Welfare-to-work policies and the experience of employed single mothers on income support in Australia: where are the benefits?

T. Grahame and G. Marston

Australian Social Work, vol.65, 2012, p. 73-86

In July 2006, 'welfare-to-work' policies were introduced for single parents in Australia. These policies required most single parents with school aged children to be employed or seeking employment of 15 to 25 hours per week in return for their income support payment. The changes represented a sharp increase in the obligations applying to single parents on income support. This paper explores how the wellbeing of single mothers who are combining income support and paid employment is being affected by these increased activity requirements. Data were gathered through semi-structured interviews with 21 Brisbane single mothers. Participants found their interactions with the welfare system demoralising although they were mostly meeting their activity requirements. They experienced a lack of recognition of their identities as mothers, paid workers and competent decision-makers which ultimately adversely affected their wellbeing.

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