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Welfare Reform on the Web (June 2004): Welfare State - Overseas

ALTERNATIVES FOR WELFARE POLICY: COPING WITH INTERNATIONALISATION AND DEMOGRAPHIC CHANGE

T.M. Andersen and P. Molander

Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004

Demographic change and increasingly international markets are putting severe pressure on developed welfare states in the OECD countries. The contributors to this book assess the magnitude of these challenges and discuss what policy options are open to meet them. Looking at public services production, social insurance, tax policy and debt policy, they examine the main costs and benefits associated with an extensive welfare state and ask whether the same objectives can be reached with a welfare regime that is less costly. They also discuss whether the current organisation of the welfare state is capable of meeting future challenges facing a changing society. The analysis draws on material from OECD countries with a focus on the Scandinavian countries

INTEREST IN POVERTY 'NEAR A LOW POINT'

R. McGregor

Financial Times, May 26th 2004, p.12

The developed world's interest in global poverty is "near a low point", according to James Wolfensohn, president of the World Bank, ahead of the opening today of a conference in Shanghai to look at new approaches to the problem. Mr Wolfensohn said he did not think much could be done to refocus popular and political attention on the problems of developing countries while the war in Iraq, terrorism and budgetary issues took centre stage.

POVERTY ALLEVIATION AND THE DEGREE OF CENTRALISATION IN EUROPEAN SCHEMES OF SOCIAL ASSISTANCE

K. Holsch and M. Kraus

Journal of European Social Policy, Vol. 14, May 2004, p.143-164

The article examines the relationship between the degree of centralisation in European welfare schemes and their success in reducing poverty. Cluster analysis was used to group the schemes of fifteen European countries according to features related to centralisation. Results showed that very centralised systems were more effective in combating poverty than very de-centralised schemes, although the centralised schemes were not proven to run more efficiently. However, a medium degree of centralisation was shown to be the most successful in reducing poverty.

UN: TRADE RISE IS HURTING POOREST

A. Seager

The Guardian, May 28th 2004, p.23

An increase in international trade for the world's poorest countries has not led to any real reduction in poverty in those countries, according to the United Nations. Releasing its two-yearly report on the world's least developed countries, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad) said many least developed countries were more integrated into the world economy than their rich counterparts but had seen trade balances worsen as they have liberalised trade. The report will act will act as a warning to policymakers who argue that opening up markets will benefit all countries. Unctad does not argue against free trade, however, but says it is not sufficient on its own.

WELFARE ECONOMICS: TOWARDS A MORE COMPLETE ANALYSIS

Y-K. Ng

Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004

In this volume the author looks at pushing welfare economics towards a more complete analysis. The author attempts to make welfare economics more complete by discussing increasing returns, using the recent Yang-Ng framework of division of labour and by pushing labour economics from the level of preference to that of welfare (or happiness), making a reformulation of public policy necessary.

WELFARE, ETHNICITY, AND ALTRUISM: NEW FINDINGS AND EVOLUTIONARY THEORY

F.K. Salter

London: Frank Cass, 2004

This book applies the controversial theory of 'Ethnic Nepotism' to the modern welfare state. This theory states that ethnic groups resemble large families whose members are prone to cooperate due to 'kin altruism'. The book presents two separate studies that compare welfare expenditures around the world, both indicating that the more ethnically mixed a population becomes, the greater is its resistance to redistributive policies. On a related theme, a global survey finds that the most generous foreign aid comes from the most homogeneous countries, and that ethnic diversity hinders economic growth in all except a small number of societies. Finally the book considers policy implications. At a time of economic globalisation and mass migration, can generous and inclusive welfare be saved? Solutions and alternatives are discussed including multiculturalism at state and international levels; assimilation; secession; ethnic federalism; the Swiss model; the European model; affirmative action (group rights); and strict individualist welfare.

A WIDER RACE? INTERSTATE COMPETITION ACROSS HEALTH AND WELFARE PROGRAMS

M.A. Bailey and M.C. Rom

The Journal of Politics, Vol. 66, 2004, p.326-347

The article considers whether interstate competition reduces welfare generosity. Three state benefits - Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), Medicaid, and Supplemental Security Income-State (SSI-S) - were examined across 48 states in America to determine the impact of a state's peers on welfare decisions, with a fourth, non-state benefit Medicare used as a control. Results revealed evidence of interstate competition across measures over which states have authority, indicating that states are sensitive about being over generous with benefits, lest they attract "undesirable" populations.

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