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

Asian Little Dragons: in the 'Midlife Crisis'? Challenges to societal policies after the neoliberal 'miracle'

K.-Y. Law (guest editor)

Journal of Asian Public Policy, vol. 5, 2012, p. 48-134

The success of industrialisation in the so-called four little dragons of East Asia (i.e. Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and South Korea) was the model for economic development in other Third World countries. However, fluctuations in the world and regional economies create, uncover or sharpen long-hidden social issues. In every economic fluctuation, all people suffer, but the lower classes suffer most. This phenomenon raises serious questions about whether current social policies adequately protect people against an increasingly risky global economic environment. Articles in this special section on the Asian Little Dragons cover the care needs of older people, social problems, especially the over-exploitation of the working classes, created by economic-led social policies, the protection of labour and the work-family balance in Taiwan, and multiculturalism in South Korea and Hong Kong.

The capability approach: insights for a new poverty focus

R. Hick

Journal of Social Policy, vol. 41, 2012, p. 291-308

Sen's capability approach focuses on what people are able to do and be, as opposed to what they have or how they feel. Sen argues that, in analysing well-being, we should shift our focus from 'the means of living' such as income to the 'actual opportunities a person has', namely their functionings and capabilities. Functionings refers to the various things a person succeeds in doing or being, such as participating in society or being healthy, while capabilities refers to a person's real freedom to achieve such functionings, i.e. the ability to participate in society. This paper examines the conceptual contribution the capability approach might make to the analysis of poverty in a developed nation. It is argued that the capability approach can provide a framework that can reflect the many ways in which human lives can be blighted and thus offers some promise for poverty analysis.

Care between work and welfare in European societies

B. Pfau-Effinger and T. Rostgaard (editors)

Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011

The book makes an original contribution to the study of child and elder care in that it analyses new tensions that are related to different types and dimensions of care in the context of recent welfare state reforms. It provides insight into the history of theoretical concepts related to care, and the theoretical framework of 'tensions'. Analyses relate to new tensions that are connected with different types of formal and informal child and elderly care, and with migration related to care. Also, tensions within care cultures, and between the cultural and the institutional framework of care are analysed. Moreover, it is shown if and under which conditions welfare state reforms have contributed to strengthen existing tensions or even to create new tensions, and under which conditions they have contributed to relax such tensions. The volume brings together experts in the field of research on welfare and work from different disciplines and from different European countries.

Economics of the welfare state. 5th ed.

N. Barr

Oxford: OUP, 2012

The fifth edition of this textbook discusses the different parts of the welfare system, in particular, cash benefits, health care and education. The text argues that the welfare state does not exist only to help the underprivileged, but also for reasons of efficiency, in areas where private markets would be inefficient or would not exist at all. New to this edition are:

  • Increased international coverage
  • Greater focus on globalization
  • An updated and revised chapter on pensions
  • Updates to theory chapters

The politics of social rights: social protection and free health care in Nepal

S. Jones

Public Management Review, vol. 14, 2012, p. 239-254

This article examines how the initial elements of a system of rights-backed social insurance have been established in Nepal and so seeks to shed light on how in practice political support for such a system may begin to develop. This has taken place in the wake of the ending of a ten-year Maoist insurgency but during a period of continuing political conflict and uncertainty. The role of the state in providing social benefits has become a central focus of political attention during the transition to new constitutional arrangements. The interim constitution of 2007 sought to establish a comprehensive set of economic and social rights including those to health, education and social protection. Governments have competed to extend access to services (including through abolition of user charges for basic health services and the extension of cash grants for social protection). This article provides an overview of Nepal's political context and compares the processes by which policy initiatives to launch social protection cash transfers and free basic healthcare have been established.

Public affairs and health informatics research

T.T.H. Wan and N. Meemon (guest editors)

International Journal of Public Policy, vol. 8, 2012, p. 1-193

The 14 studies in this special issue serve as examples of how scholars in different countries conduct informatics research to indicate, predict and address problems in the public sector. The studies cover four domains: 1) healthcare reform, population ageing and quality of life; 2) role of informatics in healthcare; 3) cost containment, accessibility and quality of public services; and 4) public service performance.

Social income transfers and poverty: a cross-country analysis for OECD countries

K. Caminada, K. Goudeswaard and F. Koster

International Journal of Social Welfare, vol. 21, 2012, p. 115-126

Poverty alleviation is a key social policy objective in developed welfare states. There are several ways to combat poverty, but income transfers seem to be an important instrument. A vast literature claims that high social expenditure goes with low poverty rates across countries. However these have used a simple bivariate approach, which may produce biased results. In this present study, the familiar claim was investigated through a cross country analysis of the relationship between poverty rates and social expenditure ratios. In contrast to existing studies, the influence of demographic and macroeconomic circumstances on poverty was controlled for using a multi-linear regression model. Several tests were performed with data for the period 1985-2005. Quite a strong negative relationship was still found between social transfers and poverty, confirming previous research.

Transnational care in Europe: changing formations of citizenship, family and generation

U. Erel, F. Williams and D. Brennan (editors)

Social Politics, vol.19, 2012, p. 1-162

While care is organised differently in each European country, there is a trend towards commodification, exemplified through cash or tax credits for childcare (in the UK, Spain, Finland and France), tax breaks for employers of domestic help (in Sweden), or direct payments for elder or disability care (UK, Netherlands, Italy and Austria). These encourage the expansion of marketised, home-based care. Migrants, often with precarious access to residence permits and labour markets, make up a major source of this care labour. Contributions to this special issue cover different European countries with a range of different care, gender and migration regimes. The articles provide theoretical and empirical perspectives on care, as it is constituted and conceptualised in different national contexts of welfare policies, migration experiences, and class, racialised and gender relations. They address the complexity of migrants' positions in care relationships. They cover migrant workers engaged in paid and unpaid care work in the formal and informal sectors and in jobs deemed skilled and unskilled.

Welfare state transformations: comparative perspectives

M. Seeleib-Kaiser (editor)

Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011

This edited volume provides fresh empirical evidence of far reaching transformations of the welfare state globally that have changed the boundaries of the 'public' and 'private domains within the mixed economies of welfare. By investigating the various modes of policy intervention, such as financing and the provision and regulation of social policy, it provides a nuanced account of reforms in the past decade. The book includes contributions from leading anthropologists, political scientists, sociologists and social policy analysts, and analyses key policy areas including income security, health, care, social services and education.

The welfare state's making of cosmopolitan Europe: individualization of social rights as European integration

M. van Gerven and M. Ossewaarde

European Societies, vol. 14, 2012, p. 35-55

Sociologists have widely observed that West European societies have become 'late modern'. In this process, the welfare state has been subject to structural transformations. Originally a modern institution of the sovereign nation state, the welfare state has adapted to the conditions of a late modern, typically globalising, society. In modern society, the welfare state was the embodiment of social citizenship rights. In the past decades, such legal entitlements to healthcare, education and social security have been increasingly individualised. This individualisation of social citizenship rights has been characterised by increased self-responsibility, individual choice and activation. The European Union has played a significant role in individualising modern West European welfare states through governance institutions such as the open method of coordination (OMC) and the subsequent transformation of national into European identities. This article investigates the extent to which EU-driven modernisation policies have led to individualisation of social rights attached to insurance benefits and whether disparities between different welfare models can be found. This issue is investigated through a case study of changes to benefit rules since 1980 in three EU member states, Britain, the Netherlands, and Finland.

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