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Welfare Reform on the Web (May 2001): Welfare State - Overseas

BEYOND THE PROPERTY RIGHTS APPROACH: WELFARE POLICY AND THE REFORM OF STATE-OWNED ENTERPRISES IN CHINA

E. X. Gu

Development and Change, vol. 32, 2001, p. 129-150

During the pre-reform era, Chinese state-owned enterprises (SOEs) operated not only as firms but also as mini-welfare states, providing employees with lifetime employment, inexpensive housing, free health care and pensions. Since China's market transition began in the late 1970s, however, SOEs have had to bear an increasingly heavy burden of responsibility for welfare provision for their employees. The steep increase in welfare spending has not only eroded the base of state revenue but also impeded further SOE reforms. To address these issues, the Chinese government has introduced reforms aimed at shifting responsibility for welfare provision from SOEs to a combination of government, communities, enterprises and individuals.

BREADLINE EUROPE

G. Brown and P. Townsend (eds)

Bristol: Policy Press, 2001

Reports results of a survey in 1999 which measured poverty using the United Nations definition of absolute poverty as a lack of food, safe drinking water, sanitation facilities, health, shelter, education and information. Study found that 25% of single pensioners were surviving on less than the bare minimum of £106.00 per week, nearly one in five elderly couples were living in absolute poverty and 15% of households with two adults and one child lived on less than the required £205 per week. Study also found that levels of poverty had increased dramatically in other countries in the past ten years, especially in the former Soviet Union, Hungary and Poland.

CLASS, INDIVIDUALISM AND THE FINNISH WELFARE STATE

H. Ervasti

Journal of European Social Policy, vol. 11, 2001, p. 9-23

Article reports results of empirical research which tested two hypotheses about what happens to the legitimacy of the Scandinavian welfare state within the context of post-industrial development and the growth of the middle classes. According to the saturation approach, as general wealth increases, people adopt more individualistic stances and the legitimation of the welfare state collapses. By contrast, the irreversibility theory of state welfare suggests that the legitimacy of the welfare state is enhanced as more people are employed by it and all citizens benefit from its services. Results of a Finnish survey support the irreversibility theory and show that the middle classes are neither overly individualistic or critical of the welfare state.

COMPLEXITIES OF COALITION BUILDING: LEADERS' SUCCESSES, STRATEGIES, STRUGGLES, AND SOLUTIONS

T. Mizrahi and B. B. Rosenthal

Social Work, vol. 46, 2001, p. 63-78

Government and private funding initiatives in the US are promoting inter-organisational approaches to address complex community, social services and health issues. Article reports on aspects of a larger quantitative and qualitative research project that studied coalition dynamics, operations and outcomes. Coalition leaders interviewed defined success in multiple ways. Competent leadership was the factor most often identified with coalition success.

EUROPEAN SOCIAL POLICY: IS CO-OPERATION A BETTER ROUTE THAN REGULATION?

F. Vandenbroucke

New Economy, vol. 8, 2001, p. 30-33

Social policy as a distinct focus of attention for European co-operation was explicitly recognised along with the methodological foundations for a Europe-wide approach to it at the Lisbon Summit in 2000. The development approach proposed in Lisbon involves a mutual feedback process of planning, examination, comparison and adjustment of the social policies of member states. This is to be done on the basis of common objectives, which include:

  • prevention of exclusion;
  • help targeted on the most vulnerable;
  • mobilisation of all relevant bodes;
  • facilitating participation in employment.

FAITH, VOLUNTARY ACTION AND SOCIAL POLICY: A REVIEW OF RESEARCH

P. Lukka

Voluntary Action, vol. 3, 2000, p. 25-41

Discusses the role of faith communities as instruments of policy for creating social capital and delivering welfare services.

THE GENERATIONAL BARGAIN

D. Collard

International Journal of Social Welfare, vol. 10, 2001, p. 54-65

Article argues that the idea of a bargain or contract between the generations is helpful when thinking about a range of social policy issues such as pension reform. The standard bargain is that the working generation educates the young and cares for the elderly, on the understanding that other generations will behave similarly. Paper examines the roles of altruism and self-interest in generational transfers and the stability of the bargain against "bad" behaviour by particular generations and against fractures in the generational cluster.

PRESIDENT'S PLAN TO AID FAITH-BASED CHARITIES HIT BY FEAR OF CULTS

M. Kettle

Guardian, Mar. 13th 2001, p. 13

President Bush's plan to fund welfare work carried out by religious charities is running into opposition on the grounds that:

a) it could end up supporting dubious cults such as Hare Krishna or the Moonies
b) it discriminates against evangelical groups who see their welfare and religious roles as inseparable.

As the plan stands, groups which received federal funding would not be permitted to proselytise.

SOCIAL FUNDS AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT: THE CASE OF MALAWI

L. Schroeder

Public Administration and Development, vol. 20, 2000, p. 423-438

Social funds are used in Malawi to combat extreme poverty by rapidly disbursing financial resources to targeted populations, avoiding the bureaucratic spending mechanisms of central government. Malawi is also trying to decentralise public sector decision making by relying more on local government to provide local services. Paper considers the relative advantages of social funds and local government for the provision of services, and discusses how they are to be integrated into the newly created network of empowered local governments.

SOCIAL FUNDS IN STABILISATION AND ADJUSTMENT PROGRAMMES: A CRITIQUE

G. A. Gornia

Development and Change, vol. 32, 2001, p. 1-32

Article evaluates the impact of large number of social funds that were introduced over the past 15 years to offset the increase in poverty induced by adjustment. SFs have enjoyed greater visibility and financial support by the donor community than traditional social security programmes and raised expectations about improvements in living conditions in developing countries. However, SFs have played only a minor role in reducing the number of adjustment poor and chronic poor, and reversing adverse shifts in income distribution. This was due to problems in funding, targeting and sequencing, and cost-effectiveness. Greater impact on poverty would have required increased resources, more permanent relief structures, improved planning and targeting and better timing in relation to the fiscal cuts entailed by macroeconomic adjustment.

"WELFARE DEPENDENCE": THE POWER OF A CONCEPT

M. Smiley

Thesis Eleven, no. 64, 2001, p. 21-38

Article explores the concept of welfare dependence as it now governs arguments about welfare reform in the US and elsewhere. Argues that the concept as so formulated does not simply draw on the act of recipience but associates it with a variety of highly contestable social and political phenomena ranging from negative moral and psychological traits to a presumed need for paternal authority. Finally traces the negative consequences that the concept of dependence as so formulated has when invoked in practice.

WHICH THIRD WAY?

T. Brennan

Thesis Eleven, no. 64, 2001, p. 39-64

Clinton and Blair have formulated a Third Way in policy which is supposed to replace the First Way (capitalism) and the Second Way (socialism). In theory, Clinton's Third Way promised positive changes such as universal health care and national education standards. In practice the Third Way has only resulted in the US in welfare reform and a free trade pact with Mexico and Canada. Blair's policies in the UK have mirrored Clinton's in the US. Article argues, through a reworking of Marx's labour theory of value, that the Third Way, as presently conceived, serves the ends of multinational capital.