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

INSURANCE AGAINST POVERTY

S. Dercon

Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005

Poor people in developing countries are often affected by droughts, floods, illness, crop failure, job loss, and economic downturns. Much of their energy goes into coping with these shocks and into day-to-day survival. While insurance and credit markets, combined with widespread social security, provide an important cushion against poverty in rich countries, the need for immediate survival may lock the poor into persistent poverty in developing countries. The poor in developing countries do have informal mechanisms to cope with risk and misfortune. These are based on income diversification, risk avoidance, self-insurance by saving together with family, and community-based assistance. Nevertheless, the scope of these mechanisms remains limited. The studies that underpin this book offer insights into how public action could be more effective in protecting the vulnerable against persistent poverty. Policy should focus on providing new forms of insurance, savings, safety nets, and the means to strengthen the poor's asset base. Local communities have a big role to play: public funds should not be used to replace indigenous community-based support networks; rather they should be used to build on the strengths of these networks to ensure broader and more effective protection. With case studies of both best practice and of failure, from a mix of low-income and middle-income counties across the developing world, this book evaluates alternatives in widening insurance and protection provision.

KEEPING THE PROMISE OF SOCIAL SECURITY IN LATIN AMERICA

I. Gill, T. Packard and J. Yermo

Washington D.C.: Stanford University Press, 2005

Analysis of two decades of pioneering pension and social security reform in Latin America and the Caribbean shows that much has been achieved, but that critical challenges remain. This book, produced by the chief economist's office in the Latin America and Caribbean Region at the World Bank, evaluates policy reform in 12 countries, points to successes and shortcomings, and proposes priorities and options for future reform. The authors agree that preventing poverty in old age should be the primary objective of public pension schemes, and that this goal can be best achieved by relentless efforts to extend coverage to broader segments of society, and by encouraging, (though not necessarily mandating) personal saving

UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS, UNEMPLOYMENT DURATION AND SUBSEQUENT JOB QUALITY: EVIDENCE FROM WEST GERMANY

M. Pollmann-Schult and F. Büchel

Acta Sociologica: vol. 48, no. 1, 2005, p. 21 - 39

Benefit reforms proposing the restriction of duration of assistance, or applying stricter eligibility criteria, should be aware of potential negative consequences. They may adversely affect people's chances of finding high quality jobs that match their skill set. Data are drawn from the West German Life History Study. Analysis shows that recipients of unemployment benefits have shorter unemployment duration, but significantly higher exits to jobs for which they are over-qualified, than recipients of unemployment benefits.

WELFARE TO WORK IN PRACTICE: SOCIAL SECURITY AND PARTICIPATION IN ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL LIFE

P. Saunders (editor)

Aldershot: Ashgate, 2005 (International studies on social security; vol.10)

This book discusses a range of topics from social security and labour market issues to the needs of special groups such as lone parents, the long-term unemployed and those with a disability in relation to the new social security policy agenda. It addresses the arguments and ideas that underlie the policy agenda and explains how it is being implemented in an international context. In doing so the authors bridge the gap between academic research and policy and demonstrate how policy can respond to the challenges it faces.

STUCK WITH WELFARE: LONG-TERM SOCIAL ASSISTANCE RECIPIENCY IN SWEDEN

A. Bergmark and O. Bäckman

European Sociological Review, vol.20, 2004, p.425-443

Long-tern dependence on social assistance first appeared in Sweden during the recession of the early 1990s due to adverse labour market conditions. However the phenomenon continued after the economy recovered in the late 1990s. Analysis shows that newly arrived immigrants experienced the greatest difficulty in moving off social assistance after economic recovery and in taking advantage of better times.

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