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Welfare Reform on the Web (February 2006): Social Security - Overseas

Does welfare participation affect women's wages?

M.C. Noonan and C.M. Heflin

Social Science Quarterly, vol.86, 2005, Supplement, p.1123-1145

Standard economic theory predicts that women who leave the labour market will receive lower starting wages when they return to work because of job skill deterioration while unemployed, job mismatch and employer discrimination. Analysis of longitudinal data from the 1996 US Survey of Income and Program Participation shows that time spent on social assistance while unemployed exacts a wage penalty similar to that associated with non-welfare work breaks. Time spent on welfare while employed has no effect on wages. Working while on welfare does appear to prevent further wage deterioration but does not lead to substantial wage growth.

'Integrative' or 'defensive' youth activation in nine European welfare states

I. Harsløf

Journal of Youth Studies, vol.8, 2005, p.461-481

Young unemployed persons are a prioritised group in most active labour market programmes. Such programmes can be regarded as integrative, facilitating young people’s integration into the labour market in accordance with their own preferences. Alternatively, they can be viewed as defensive, forcing young unemployed people into low-paid, insecure employment. This article examines the perceptions of young participants themselves, analysing whether activation programmes are experienced in ways endorsing the integrative of the defensive perspective across different European welfare states. Survey results for all countries show that activation programmes for youth are at the integrative end of the spectrum. This is especially the case for universal welfare regime countries. Participants’ scheme evaluations are least positive in Scotland, as would be expected for a liberal welfare regime.

A race to the bottom? Exploring county spending shortfalls under welfare reform in North Carolina

M. Berner

Public Budgeting and Finance, vol.25, Winter 2005, p.86-104

Article analyses the effects of devolution of budgets from state to county level on welfare spending in North Carolina. County-level expenditure data show that after devolution only 45 of 100 counties met welfare maintenance of effort (MOE) budget requirements. Factors significantly associated with MOE spending variation included control over eligibility and benefit levels. Counties given more flexibility spent dramatically less than others. Many failed to meet MOE requirements without penalty, year after year.

The road not taken? Changes in welfare entry during the 1990s

G. Acs, K.R. Phillips and S. Nelson

Social Science Quarterly, vol.86, 2005, Supplement, p.1060-1079

This article examines how US welfare entry rates changed in the 1990s, and also assesses whether changes in entry rates are accompanied by improvements in the circumstances of families who choose not to receive benefits. Study found that welfare entry rates declined during the 1990s, especially towards the end of the decade. The drop in welfare entry rates appears to be due to the introduction of reforms such as time limits, full-family sanctions, and family caps, not to improvements in the economy or changes in the characteristics of low-income single mothers. The analysis also shows that low-income single mothers who are not receiving welfare remain in precarious economic circumstances.

Trading off income and health? AIDS and disability grant in South Africa

N. Nattrass

Journal of Social Policy, vol.35, 2006, p.3-19

Despite high levels of unemployment, there is no social assistance available to people out of work in South Africa. Only those too young, too old or too sick to work qualify for benefits. Now that highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) is being rolled out through the public health sector for AIDS sufferers, they face a dilemma. AIDS sufferers qualify for a disability grant. The HAART rollout offers them the chance of restored health, but at the cost of losing their disability grant because they will be deemed well enough to work. Given South Africa’s high employment rates, many will not be able to find work and so will face a trade-off between regaining their health and losing their income.

Turning gender rights into entitlements: women and welfare provision in post apartheid South Africa

S. Hassim

Social Research, vol.72, 2005, p.621-646

The social welfare system being built in post apartheid South Africa is a residual system, reacting to only the worst effects of family or market failure and providing assistance only to social groups seen as deserving. Women can access support only through their children until they reach the age of 60. Provision of benefits is not generous, they are means-tested and are difficult to access. Unless the basis of entitlement changes to one in which access to social assistance is seen as a citizenship right, women will continue to be excluded from the system.

Unemployment insurance or individual savings accounts: can Chile’s new scheme serve as a model for other developing countries?

K. Sehnbruch

International Social Security Review, vol.59, Jan.-Mar. 2006, p.27-48

Article introduces Chile’s new unemployment insurance scheme. This system combines individual savings accounts to which both workers and employers contribute with a publicly financed contingency fund on which a worker can draw under certain conditions should individual funds prove insufficient.

The US Catholic bishops and welfare policy: guidelines for reform and reauthorization

E.J. Martin

International Journal of Public Administration, vol.28, 2005, p.1187-1209

Since Vatican II (1962-1965) the Catholic Church’s involvement in secular matters, especially the promotion of peace and justice, has grown. Along with other interest groups, Catholic bishops in the US have sought to influence social policy. Article discusses the bishops’ response to welfare reform and the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families programme which replaced Aid to Families with Dependent Children. The bishops’ position can be understood as a defence of fundamental human rights and basic human needs in the face of a policy which they believed threatened the rights and needs of the poor.

Welfare recipients' college attendance and consequences for time limited aid

R.A. London

Social Science Quarterly, vol.86, 2005, Supplement, p.1104-1122

In framing the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) programme, policymakers limited welfare recipients’ access to higher education, because they felt that attending college while on aid would undermine the goal of providing short term assistance. Research examines the association between total time on social assistance and recipients’ college attendance and graduation over a 20 year period.Findings indicate that attending college is associated with more months on social assistance, but graduating largely offsets this through reductions in return to aid. However, there is concern at the low rate of graduation among welfare recipients.

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