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

Activation for what purpose? Lessons from Denmark

J. Lind and I.H. Møller

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol.26, 2006, p.5-19

This paper investigates why activation or workfare programmes are still a core component of most European countries’ labour market policies when it has become clear that their effects on employment are either unknown or very small. Charting in detail the evolution of labour market activation policies in Denmark, this research reveals their continuing intensification and the ways in which this has reduced the living standards of marginalised groups. It explains this to be the work of a power block that aims to discipline the whole workforce, partly by encouraging more people to work harder and for longer hours, mostly without being paid overtime.

R. van Berkel

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol.26, 2006, p.20-31

Paper explores the impact of devolution of responsibility for activation services aimed at social assistance recipients to the Dutch municipalities. The findings show that decentralising financial responsibility has had a clear impact on local policies: preventing social assistance dependency and promoting social assistance exit have become major concerns of many Dutch municipalities.

K. Holsch and M. Kraus

International Journal of Social Welfare, vol.15, 2006, p.50-62

This article analyses the various schemes of social assistance in EU countries with different degrees of centralisation with respect to their distributive impacts. The results suggest that social assistance reduces inequality, especially in the UK, the Netherlands and Sweden. A high level of social assistance recipients in the general population correlates with high distributive effectiveness. By contrast, a higher social assistance budget or higher benefit levels do not necessarily yield a better performance in terms of distributive effectiveness or efficiency. Distributive efficiency seems to be related to various forms of targeting. Centralisation does not automatically lead to greater effectiveness in the social assistance administration.

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