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Welfare Reform on the Web (February 2005): Social Security - Overseas

DISTRIBUTIVE JUSTICE AND THE ARGUMENT FOR AN UNCONDITIONAL BASIC INCOME

A. Zelleke

Journal of Socio-Economics, vol.34, 2005, p.3-15

Article examines one of the basic arguments against guaranteed basic incomes, which is that redistribution should be tied to a work obligation. Argues that the defence of work requirements implies a belief in the fairness of the system in which they are imposed. The inability of a welfare capitalist economy to deliver that fairness over succeeding generations undermines that basic fairness, diminishing the case for work requirements.

DOES WIC WORK? THE EFFECTS OF WIC ON PREGNANCY AND BIRTH OUTCOMES

M.P. Bitler and J. Currie

Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, vol.24, 2005, p.73-91

Study investigates the effects of WIC (the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children) on maternal and infant health using rich data from the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS). Results show that , although WIC participants are relatively more disadvantaged than Medicaid mothers, all of whom are theoretically eligible for WIC, WIC participation is associated with improved birth outcomes. The positive impacts of WIC are larger among subsets of even more disadvantaged women, such as single high school dropouts and teenage mothers.

GERMANY'S JOBLESS FEEL BUDGET PINCH

L. Harding

The Guardian, Jan. 4th 2005, p.14

More than two million people are affected by the biggest shake-up in social security in Germany's post war history. Germany's unemployed received new benefits under a contentious scheme known as Hartz 1V. Unemployment in Germany stands at 4.6 million and the country's traditionally generous welfare system can no longer cope. The reforms will mean:

  • unemployment benefit will be reduced from 60% of former pay to a flat rate of about £232 a month for the long-term unemployed;
  • the jobless will for the first time have to accept offers of work;
  • benefits will be reduced for unemployed people whose partners are in employment;
  • single jobless people are entitled to 45-50 sq metres of living space, two people to 70 sq metres, three to 75 sq metres.

(See also Financial Times, Jan. 5th 2005, p.9; The Daily Telegraph, Jan. 5th 2005, p.29)

INCOME GUARANTEES AND THE EQUITY-EFFICIENCY TRADEOFF

S. Pressman

Journal of Socio-Economics, vol.34, 2005, p.83-100

Article explores, from an international perspective, whether economic efficiency suffers when governments make greater efforts to protect the poor. Finds that, during those times and in those countries where greater efforts were made to protect the incomes of the poor, productivity growth appears not to have been affected very much. This suggests that efficiency concerns are not a fatal objection to guaranteed income plans.

MYTH AND CEREMONY IN WORKFARE: RIGHTS, CONTRACTS AND CLIENT SATISFACTION

J.F. Handler

Journal of Socio-Economics, vol.34, 2005, p.101-124

In both the US and western Europe recent reforms mean that citizens of working age have to undertake some work-related activity or training in order to qualify for social assistance. Author argues in favour of the alternative approach of awarding every citizen a basic income. This would be clawed back from the better off in tax, but would empower the poor to refuse to accept very low-paid, insecure dead-end jobs. It would also cut out the costs of administering the plethora of existing means-tested bensfits.

PERHAPS THERE CAN BE TOO MUCH FREEDOM

M.A. Lewis

Journal of Socio-Economics, vol.34, 2005, p.17-25

Ackeman and Alstott propose a policy reform called stakeholder grants which would provide citizens with a large lump sum to invest to generate a basic income. Author argues that a substantial number of people would waste their basic capital grant. A basic income guarantee from the state would protect them from making unwise decisions they could later regret.

TARGETED PROGRAMS V THE BASIC INCOME GUARANTEE: AN EXAMINATION OF THE EFFICIENCY COSTS OF DIFFERENT FORMS OF REDISTRIBUTION.

J.B. Bryan

Journal of Socio-Economics, vol.34, 2005, p.39-47

A basic income guarantee is known to require a great deal of tax revenue per dollar of net transfer. Such revenue requirements can appear prohibitive and this impression can lead people to favour targeted forms of redistribution involving eligibility requirements and means-testing. A simple simulation is used in this article to show that, in the United States, a basic income guarantee is not necessarily a less efficient way of accomplishing redistributive goals and that it could well be more efficient.

UNIVERSAL BASIC INCOME AS A PREFERENTIAL SOCIAL DIVIDEND: A PROPOSAL FOR THE COLOMBIAN CASE

D. Hernández

Journal of Socio-Economics, vol.34, 2005, p.27-38

Paper proposes creating a Citizen's Universal Fund in which each Colombian would have a share which would pay him/her a basic income after the share had been held for 20 years.

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