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Welfare Reform on the Web (June 2005): Welfare State - Overseas

The economic implications of aging societies: the costs of living happily ever after

S.A. Nyce and S.J. Schieber

New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005

The world is getting older and no one exactly knows what life will be like in tomorrow's ageing societies. But we do know that age dependency ratios - the ratio of retirees to workers - will be much higher than we see today. The implications of this trend are plain. The combined effects of fewer workers, more retirees, and longer retirement periods threaten not only the sustainability of pensions systems but also the broader economic prospects of many developed countries. There is no single magic-bullet solution to the demographic shortfalls ahead. The authors consider the most effective solution is likely to be a multifaceted one: more workers, longer careers, higher productivity, and more global exchange and cooperation.

Globalisation, domestic politics and welfare state retrenchment in capitalist democracies

D. Swank

Social Policy and Society vol. 4, 2005, p. 183 - 195

Despite the pressures of economic globalisation, domestic forces remain significant determinants of welfare state policy. This tentative conclusion follows a review and analysis which draws from recent literature and data on:

  • political economy and the impacts of globalisation
  • the retrenchment of welfare states in capitalist democracies
  • the domestic sources of welfare state trajectories
  • welfare entitlements and decommodification.

Joint report on social inclusion 2004

European Commission, Directorate-General for Employment and Social Affairs Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, 2004 Report contains second generation action plans against poverty and social exclusion which have been prepared by EU member states.

Livelihood strategies and the performance of Ghana’s health and education sectors: exploring the connections

F. Owusu

Public Administration and Development, vol. 25, 2005, p.157-174

Public sector organisations in Africa, such as schools and hospitals, are notoriously inefficient. This is in part due to underpaid staff undertaking various legal and illegal "extra-curricular" activities in order to generate income to make ends meet. These survival strategies are condoned and encouraged by the existing organisational cultures. Public sector reform initiatives must therefore include measures to change current organisational cultures.

Marriage, motherhood and welfare reform

J.D. Berrick

Social Policy and Society vol. 4, 2005, p. 133-145

In 1996 the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act was passed in the USA, ushering in the era of "welfare reform". This included a number of efforts to encourage unemployed single parents to work. The law also extended the government's interest in regulating social behaviours such as marriage and reproduction. Paper reviews states' efforts at developing programmes that encourage marriage and discourage child-bearing, and summarises the empirical evidence on the effectiveness of these approaches.

New theories of welfare

T. Fitzpatrick

Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2005

In developed countries social welfare accounts for about half of government spending and a quarter of national wealth. So when you vote about 50% of what you are voting about is social welfare services. The author contests that unless those services have a theoretical and ideological basis. those votes become the equivalent of shouting into the wind. The book tackles:

  • modern conservatism versus social democracy
  • the new radicalisms
  • information and society
  • agency, community and class
  • genes and environment
  • culture and media

Poverty targeting in Asia

J. Weiss (editor)

Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 2005

Most governments attempt to target resources directly at the poor through either promotional measures (to help raise welfare in the long term) or protectional (to support the poor in times of adverse shocks). However, for many Asian countries the reality of these poverty targeting measures has proved disappointing. This book offers a detailed assessment of the result of directly channelling resources to the poor of five Asian Countries - India, Indonesia, the People's Republic of China, the Phillipines and Thailand. The authors demonstrate how these measures have failed due to their high cost and errors of both undercoverage (where many of the poor are excluded) and leakage (where many of the better-off also benefit from these schemes). The authors conclude that whilst poverty targeting remains a critically important objective, past targeting errors must not be forgotten and improved methods of both identifying and reaching the poor must be implemented.

Rethinking the welfare state: the prospects for government by voucher

R. J. Daniels and M. J. Trebilcock

London: Routledge, 2005

This book offers a comprehensive and comparative analysis of social welfare policy in an international context, with a particular emphasis on the US and Canada. The authors investigate the claim that decentralised delivery of government-supported goods and services enables policy objectives to be achieved in a more innovative, efficient and responsive manner. They also explore the effectiveness of the voucher system as a solution to problematic welfare concerns. The voucher system, whether in the form of tax deductions, credits or means-tested consumer entitlements, places the resources directly into the hands of citizens and allows them to determine which goods they will consume from competing private suppliers. While this system has shown much promise in improving welfare, there have been problems for institutions unable to attract enough voucher-assisted consumers to ensure their survival.

Social theory and social policy

B. Jordan

European Journal of Social Theory, vol.8, 2005, p.149-170

In the 1980s and 1990s social policy was based on liberal social theories which championed individual autonomy and choice. This orthodoxy is now being challenged by neo-conservatives who argue that the social order is fragile and needs to be buttressed by traditional family, religious and patriotic values. Social policies derived from these values include faith-based schools and welfare agencies and abstinence-based sex education programmes.

Too important to leave to the economists? The political economy of welfare reform


Social Policy and Society vol. 4, 2005, p. 197 - 205

High welfare spending is not incompatible with an open and competitive economy. Welfare reform justified in terms of its contribution to citizens' well being would enhance competitiveness. This review analyses recent comparative political economy, challenging the views that welfare policies are subordinate to economic imperatives, and that globalisation is the cause of welfare cut backs. Examines:

  • Welfare retrenchment
  • Labour market flexibilisation
  • Global and regional political economy

Welfare and families in Europe

P. Abrahamson, T.P. Boje and B. Greve

Aldershot: Ashgate, 2005

The primary focus of this work is the relationship between family, work and the welfare system. Focusing on Denmark, Sweden, Germany, France and the United Kingdom, the study draws comparisons between societies which represent different types of welfare mix between state, market and civil society. Three important issues in the transformation of European welfare state systems are considered: the conditions for social citizenship; changes in the provision of social welfare and the impacts of constraints on public expenditure and the financing of welfare states. The authors discuss the question as to whether the welfare state of these counties have profoundly changed over the last ten to fifteen years and examine how this might provide insights into the contemporary welfare state.

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