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Welfare Reform on the Web (November 2006): Social security - Overseas

Alternative funding mechanisms for workers’ compensation

R.W. Klein and G. Krohm

International Social Security Review, vol.59, Oct-Dec. 2006, p.3-28

Compensation for injury or disease arising out of employment is guaranteed by government-mandated insurance in virtually all nations, even the least developed. There is wide variation among countries with respect to how they fund workers’ compensation schemes in terms of sources of funds, the mechanisms used, and the allocation of system costs among employers and others. This paper first describes the major alternative approaches to funding compensation for work-related injuries and illnesses and considers their advantages and disadvantages. It then reviews how workers’ compensation funding mechanisms and other government financial incentives have been used to promote workplace safety.

Changes in work and social protection: France, Germany and Europe

B. Zimmermann

International Social Security Review, vol.59, Oct-Dec. 2006, p.29-45

This article looks at the impact of contemporary changes in the workplace on social protection systems that are financed through waged-based social security contributions and are therefore directly linked to employment, with reference to the examples of France and Germany. Being founded on waged work, the social protection systems of these countries are being adversely affected by population ageing, growing unemployment, and the emergence of a plethora of alternative working patterns. Reforms to the social protection systems in both countries prioritise activation of unemployed workers and maintenance of their employability. This article looks at the impact of the European Employment Strategy on national reforms.

Examining the administration of work sanctions on the frontlines of the welfare system

V. Lens

Social Science Quarterly, vol.87, 2006, p.573-590

The stated goal of welfare reform is to decrease dependency and promote work and self-sufficiency. Sanctions (withdrawal of cash benefits) and mandatory work requirements are one means to this end. This article examines the administration of work sanctions using data on fair hearing decisions. These decisions are a product of adversarial administrative hearings triggered when a client appeals against an adverse decision by the agency, including work sanctions. Results show that sanctions were often imposed without staff having fully assessed clients ability to participate in work programmes. Staff also avoided complex and subtle determinations on whether a client was unable or unwilling to work, and treated the imposition of sanctions as a clerical task based on monitoring the client’s overt behaviour, such as attendance at appointments.

International benchmark of fraud and error in social security systems

National Audit Office

London: TSO, 2006 (House of Commons papers, session 2005/06; HC 1387)

The report presents results of a benchmarking exercise investigating the issue of fraud and error in the social security systems of eight European and non- European countries. The report describes the different systems studied, assesses the scale and prominence of the problem in a national context, and outlines steps taken to measure and reduce fraud and error. In addition, it analyses the principal themes emerging from the comparison of findings for the individual countries, and identifies considerations of particular interest in the context of fraud and error within the UK’s Department for Work and Pensions. Key findings of the report are:

  • Rates of fraud at the Department appear comparable to those of other countries
  • The Department is at the forefront in developing estimates of losses from fraud and error in social security expenditure.
  • The Department compares favourably in terms of awareness of fraud and error, and activities to combat the problem;
  • The Department, with support of the NAO, could lead an international exchange on the measurement and management of the problem; and
  • Other countries’ initiatives to tackle the problem may be of potential interest to the UK.

Lessons to be learnt? The role of evaluations of active labour market programmes in evidence-based policy making

D. Johnston

Public Administration and Development, vol.26, 2006, p.329-337

In the UK there is a high level of political commitment to evaluation of active labour market programmes (ALMP), available expertise and good administrative and survey data. However, obstacles remain to the generation and use of impact data. This article attempts to assess these obstacles. It suggests that measurement of the impact of ALMPs will prove difficult in developing countries without sound administrative data, comprehensive labour market statistics, and well established macroeconomic and tax-benefit models.

Unemployment insurance and trade union membership


European Industrial Relations Review, issue 392, 2006, p.20-24

Denmark, Finland and Sweden have a distinctive system of unemployment insurance, which is voluntary and largely controlled by trade unions. This is widely regarded as a major factor in the high unionisation levels in these countries, bur recent changes in the system may mean that unions can no longer rely on this for help in recruiting members.

Welfare-to-work and the emerging third sector in South Korea: Korea’s third way?

S. Hahn and A. McCabe

International Journal of Social Welfare, vol.15, 2006, p.314-320

The welfare-to-work system in South Korea combines a minimum living standard guarantee with the concept of self-sufficiency and self-help. For the first time in Korean social policy, President Kim Dae-Jung’s regime (1998-2003) gave benefits to all those disadvantaged in the labour market, even if they were able to work. However, claimants with the capacity to work are compelled to participate in either “social enterprises for self-sufficiency” or “social job creation projects” run by self-sufficiency promotion centres. Self-sufficiency promotion centres are legally non-profit organisations and take the role of partners in the new welfare-to-work system.

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