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Welfare Reform on the Web (October 2002): Social Security - Overseas

CHANGING SAFETY NET OF LAST RESORT: DOWNSZING GENERAL ASSISTANCE FOR EMPLOYABLE ADULTS

S. G. Anderson, A. P. Halter and B. M. Gryzlak

Social Work, vol. 47, 2002, p.249-258

General Assistance in the US serves as the cash programme of last resort for people who are poor and ineligible for other benefits. The programme is state funded and each state has complete discretion to design its own programme. This study describes the characteristics of current state General Assistance programmes across dimensions of caseload size, geographic and target group coverage, work requirements, time limits and administrative arrangements. Authors also analyse how these programmes evolved between 1989 and 1998. They show how caseloads declined as a result of tightening eligibility criteria for people considered employable. This casts doubt on the viability of General Assistance as a safety need for vulnerable people who do not qualify for or exceed time limits under TANF

COOPERATION BETWEEN SOCIAL SECURITY AND EMPLOYMENT SERVICES: EVALUATION OF A REFORM STRATEGY IN THE NETHERLANDS

J. Terpstra

International Social Security Review, vol 55, July-Sept 2002, p.39-55

In the 1990s Centres for Work and Income were introduced in the Netherlands. In these centres several organisations are supposed to cooperate, including the Public Employment Service, municipal social services organisations providing social assistance and administrative units organising employees' social insurance benefits. The aim is to encourage people living on benefits to return to paid work and to make services more client orientated. In practice the intended cooperation proved difficult to establish and hardly any clients were galvanised into returning to work.

HAVE FAMILIES FARED WELL FROM WELFARE REFORM? EDUCATING CLINICIANS ABOUT POLICY, PARADOX AND CHANGE

S. Wycoff and others

The Family Journal, vol. 10, 2002, p. 269-280

Article discusses the impact of welfare-to-work legislation in the US, drawing on national survey data, studies by state and private research institutions, and figures from informal community-based monitoring programmes. Findings reveal evidence of an escalation of low paid employment, an increase in extreme nationwide child poverty, signs of mounting family hardship, and challenges affecting the survival of this vulnerable population on leaving welfare.

INCOME MOBILITY AND THE EARNED INCOME TAX CREDIT

J.B. Horowitz

Economic Inquiry, vol. 40, 2002, p.334-347

The US Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is divided into the phase-in range, the maximum credit range, and the phase-out range. In the phase-in range it acts as a wage subsidy and increases as the family earns more. In the maximum credit range it acts as a lump sum subsidy and remains the same regardless of earnings. In the phase-out range it acts as a negative income tax and is reduced as incomes rise. However most families are eligible for the EITC for a relatively short time, with 74% of new entrants losing their eligibility in two years or less. Sixty-one per cent of families already on EITC will lose their eligibility in three years or less.

MIRACLE OR NIGHTMARE? A CRITICAL REVIEW OF DUTCH ACTIVATION POLICIES AND THEIR OUTCOMES

V.W. Oorschot

Journal of Social Policy, vol. 31, 2002, p. 399-420

Article describes trends in Dutch (un)employment from the 1980s onwards, reviews the activation measures taken in social security and labour market policies, and critically discusses the success of these measures. It concludes that it may not be justified to attribute the 'Dutch Miracle' - the recent decrease in unemployment and growth in employment - directly to the measures taken, and that activation policy has endangered social rights and citizenship, especially for those most vulnerable.

ON THE CONVERGENCE OF SOCIAL PROTECTION SYSTEMS IN THE EUROPEAN UNION

P.A. Cornelisse and K P. Goudswaard

International Social Security Review, vol 5, July-Sept 2002, p.3-17

Paper discusses recent recommendations and statements issued by various bodies of the European Union regarding the desirability of convergence of social protection objectives and policies. Then summarises various theoretical arguments about the impact of economic integration on convergence of social protection systems. Finally presents analyses of data on gross replacement rates of unemployment benefits for 14 EU countries covering two decades, and data on the share of GDP spent on social benefits covering four decades. A strong trend is observed towards relative convergence of both gross replacement rates and levels of social benefit expenditures among members of the EU, but this may not be the result of economic integration.

TANF: WHAT WENT WRONG AND WHAT TO DO NEXT

V. Lens

Social Work, vol 47, 2002 p. 279-290

Article examines the accumulated data on the effect of welfare reform, which show, contrary to popular opinion, that the goal of self-sufficiency remains elusive for many poor families. Argues that an economic boom has led to the perceived success of welfare-to-work and that the optimism expressed about dwindling welfare rolls is misplaced. The failure of welfare-to-work to adequately address obstacles to self-sufficiency threatens to create an even worse welfare problem in the future.

VOICING REALITIES AND RECOMMENDING REFORM IN PRWORA

M.M. Banerjee

Social Work, vol. 47, 2002, p. 315- 328

Article presents the voices of the women affected by welfare-to-work and services providers implementing it speaking about compliance with work first. Covers preparation for work, nature of work and consequences of work.

WELFARE REFORM IN ONTARIO: TOUGH TIMES IN MOTHERS' LIVES

J.A. McMullin, L. Davies, and G. Cassidy

Canadian Public Policy, vol 28, 2002, p. 297-314

Article investigates the impact of the Ontario Works Act on mothers' financial security. The Act both cut social security benefits by 21% and required applicants for financial assistance to actively look for work. Lone parents had to meet this requirement once their children began school. Discusses barriers faced by mothers returning to the labour market, such as lack of affordable child care, lack of family-friendly practices in the workplace and prevalence of low paid insecure jobs. Also points out that fear of debt deterred mothers from returning to education.

WHAT SOCIAL WORKERS NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE EARNED INCOME TAX CREDIT

S.G. Beverly

Social Work, vol. 47, 2002, p. 259-266

The US Earned Income Tax Credit provides a substantial income supplement to families with children that helps them invest in longer-term household development. Because the transfer occurs through the tax system it is less stigmatising than other means tested benefits. It also transfers resources without discouraging work by single parents, an outcome in line with welfare reform.

YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT OUTFLOW RATES AND LABOR MARKET PROGRAMS: AUSTRALIAN EVIDENCE

G Leeves

Contemporary Economic Policy, vol. 20, 2002, p. 301-315

A matching function methodology is used to investigate the effects of labour market programme commencements on youth unemployment outflows in Australia, using unpublished data that classify commencements and outflows by duration of unemployment. There is a net positive effect from LMP commencements on short-term unemployed female outflow rates. However, females experienced negative spillover effects from male LMP commencements. These spillover effects appear to be associated with wage subsidy programmes.

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