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Welfare Reform on the Web (October 1999): Social Security - Overseas

AMERICAN WELFARE ROLLS HALVED BY TIME-LIMIT REFORM

H. Gurdon

Daily Telegraph, August 4th 1999, p. 12

Reports that there are now 7.3 million people collecting social security compared to 14.1 million when President Clinton took office in 1993 and 12.2 million when he signed the conservative legislation in 1996. The core American reform set a limit for how long people could stay on welfare; no-one could receive more than five years payments in a lifetime or for more than two years in a row.

BEYOND DEPENDENCY OR BEYOND CAPITALISM? A CRITIQUE OF NEW ZEALAND'S DRIVE TOWARDS WORKFARE

D. Bedggood

Policy Studies, vol. 20, 1999, p. 133-141

Argues that welfare dependency is not the problem so much as the individual's dependency on an economic system that cannot create sufficient long-term jobs with decent wages and that cannot afford to pay for the levels of social security necessary to maintain a growing surplus population. The ideological drive towards 'workfare' is an attempt to resolve an insoluble contradiction by blaming the poor for their failure to take low-paid jobs in a system that cannot provide enough well-paid and meaningful work.

EMPLOYMENT COMMITMENT AMONG THE LONG-TERM UNEMPLOYED IN NORWAY: IS A 'CULTURE OF DEPENDENCY' ABOUT TO DEVELOP?

K. Halvorsen

European Journal of Social Work, vol. 2, 1999, p. 177-192

Analysis of data from a panel survey conducted in 1991/92 by Statistics Norway shows that the level of employment commitment among the long-term unemployed is not noticeably lower than among the stable employed. Low work involvement among members of the workforce is partly associated with people having other useful things to do, such as raising children. It also seems that by finding a meaningful job, even unemployed people with a low level of employment commitment will change their attitude to work.

FRENCH ACCORD OVER EARLY RETIREMENT

R. Graham

Financial Times, July 27th 1999, p. 2

Reports a deal allowing early retirement for around 35,000 people over 55 working in the automotive business. For those accepting early retirement aged 55, the company will pay 65% of their wages until the age of 57. Thereafter they will be covered by Unedic, the state unemployment agency.

HOW STRONG IS THE CASE FOR TARGETING ACTIVE LABOUR MARKET POLICIES? A REVIEW OF EFFICIENCY AND EQUITY ARGUMENTS

N. Fraser

International Journal of Manpower, vol. 20, 1999, p. 151-164

Article assembles efficiency and equity arguments for and against targeting the long-term unemployed in active labour market policies (ALMP), and refers to evidence from applications to date. The theory and practice of ALMP differ somewhat between high and low unemployment countries. The approach taken in Sweden from the 1960s to the 1980s is used to discuss low unemployment countries, and the OECD analysis in the 1990s to represent the theory for high unemployment countries.

THE INFLUENCE OF DIFFERENT COMPENSATION LEVELS OF UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS ON JOB CHANCES AMONG UNEMPLOYED YOUTH: STUDY OF THE NORDIC COUNTRIES

T. Hammer

Acta Sociologica, vol. 42, 1999, p. 123-134

Results of comparative surveys of unemployed youth carried out in 1995-96 in the Nordic countries show a decrease in the probability of re-employment for unemployed youth receiving unemployment benefits, even after controlling for age, educational level, work commitment, job seeking and duration of unemployment. The effect was significantly stronger in Denmark than in the other countries with lower compensation levels.

MARKETS, NETWORKS AND THE NEW WELFARE STATE: EMPLOYMENT ASSISTANCE REFORMS IN AUSTRALIA

M. Considine

Journal of Social Policy, vol. 28, 1999, p. 183-203

It is commonly asserted that the world of large hierarchically defined public organisations that provide their citizens with a set menu of standard, universal services, delivered by a career workforce is coming to an end. It is being replaced by de-coupled, multiple agency models of service delivery within a new type of welfare state. A study of service delivery staff in the Australian employment assistance sector where transformations of this type have recently been sponsored by government shows that small, non-unionised units dominate the new order and services are devolved to local level.

PAYING FOR SOCIAL RIGHTS

O. Sjöberg

Journal of Social Policy, vol. 28, 1999, p. 275-297

Eligibility for benefits is often dependent upon the payment of social insurance contributions, which in practice implies a work condition. In this way, the requirements that are necessary for keeping and holding a job in a cold labour market climate also become the requirements for being eligible for full economic support in case of illness, unemployment or old age. Thus the mechanisms that are shutting people out of the labour market are also shutting them out of the core of social policy and directing them to the outskirts of the welfare state.

THE PRE-PROGRAMME EARNINGS DIP AND THE DETERMINANTS OF PARTICIPATION IN A SOCIAL PROGRAMME: IMPLICATIONS FOR SIMPLE PROGRAMME EVALUATION STRATEGIES

J. J. Heckman and J. A. Smith

Economic Journal, vol. 109, 1999, p. 313-348

Paper uses data from a recent evaluation of a large-scale job training programme in the US to identify what would have happened to participants in the scheme if they had not taken part in it. Results show that the unemployed and disadvantaged find work almost as well (and for male youth, better) without the programme as with it. For most groups, the difference in employment rates is just a few percentage points.

THE REAL VALUE OF WELFARE: WHY POOR FAMILIES DO NOT MIGRATE

S. Schram and J. Soss

Politics and Society, vol. 27, 1999, p. 39-66

Article suggests a number of plausible reasons why, contrary to conventional wisdom, benefit levels may not motivate welfare migration in the US. Although evidence for welfare migration remains scarce, states continue to fear it. Partly out of this fear, it is highly likely that states will drift towards benefits restrictions, shorter time limits and stricter work requirements. This may force poor people to flee to other, more generous, states out of sheer necessity.

STATE WELFARE REFORM IMPACTS: CONTENT AND ENFORCEMENT EFFECTS

B. R. Schiller

Contemporary Economic Policy, vol. 17, 1999, p. 210-222

Results show that reforms which diminish the attractiveness or accessibility of welfare benefits do reduce welfare caseloads and that local administrative enforcement is important in shaping aggregate caseload effects.

TIME LIMITS ON WELFARE RECEIPTS

M. Gittleman

Contemporary Economic Policy, vol. 17, 1999, p. 199-209

Among the changes in the US social security system has been the imposition of time limits on the receipt of federal welfare funds. Little is known about the impact of this restriction. Paper examines welfare spells under the old Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) with an eye to assessing how many families may be at risk of exhausting their entitlement to federal funds under the new Temporary Assistance to Needy Families.

WILL EMPLOYERS HIRE WELFARE RECIPIENTS? RECENT SURVEY EVIDENCE FROM MICHIGAN

H. J. Holzer

Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, vol. 18, 1999, p. 449-472

Paper presents data from a new phone survey of 900 employers in Michigan on the availability and characteristics of jobs facing welfare recipients. Employers claim that roughly 3% of all jobs in the relevant metropolitan areas are prospectively available to welfare recipients currently, and as many as 8-9% over the next year. On the other hand, prospective employment is quite highly correlated with measures of unmet labour demand, implying that much of it could disappear during the next recession. Many prospective jobs are found in establishments to which inner city minorities might have limited access, and absenteeism and lack of basic skills among the unemployed are potential problems.

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