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Welfare Reform on the Web (December 2006): Welfare state - Overseas

Disorganized welfare mixes: voluntary agencies and new governance regimes in Western Europe

I. Bode

Journal of European Social Policy, vol.16, 2006, p.346-359

West European welfare states are in the process of being reconfigured. The state is no longer in the position of controlling the provision of social welfare and there is greater market and civil society involvement. Referring to evidence from France, Britain and Germany, the author argues that West European welfare regimes are undergoing a process of permanent reorganisation. Long-established patterns of system-wide coordination via negotiated public-private partnerships are turning into volatile configurations, with organisational outputs (eg service delivery performance) being accepted to be variable as a principle. Moreover, there is an increasing distance between voluntary provider organisations and both the welfare state and civil society, entailing more precarious but also more dynamic interrelations. Finally, civic action becomes more fluid, sporadic and dispersed, but also more creative in many places.

The future of the welfare state: European and global perspectives

B. Greve (editor)

Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006

The book challenges the common beliefs that the European welfare states are already in or heading towards crisis and that the process of globalisation necessarily takes away any hopes of eventual worldwide welfare. Instead it argues that a proper understanding of the future role of the welfare state requires a broader social perspective that encompasses the interaction of economic, political and social processes. It aims to provide an interdisciplinary analysis of the practical and theoretical challenges that the welfare state must meet in the future.

Global values shift and social work in America: making positive change

E. Gross

International Social Work, vol.49, 2006, p.719-730

Advanced post-industrial countries manifest values change in the direction of greater secularity and self-actualisation. Since 1980, America has shown evidence of regression towards authoritarian and anti-democratic values. This article explores why the regression is occurring and its negative implications for social welfare policy development and practice.

Globalization and the welfare state: the same strategies for similar problems

J. Adelantado and E. Calderon

Journal of European Social Policy, vol.16, 2006, p.374-386

This paper analyses the recent evolution of public expenditure, social protection expenditure, income inequality and the risk of poverty in European Union countries. It is argued that some of the pressures of globalisation have been translated into a relative reduction in public expenditure and social protection expenditure compared to the growth in GDP, resulting in an increased risk of poverty and a growth in income inequality. Welfare state spending across the countries of the EU has tended to converge. Countries which used to allocate most resources to social protection have cut back most, and consequently income inequality and risk of poverty have increased. Conversely, countries which used not to fund their welfare states generously have increased spending, and therefore income inequality and risk of poverty have both been reduced.

Ideological roots of Philippine social welfare

N.G. Yu

International Social Work, vol.49, 2006, p.559-570

The welfare initiatives introduced under Spanish and American colonial rule, constituting the seeds of current social welfare in the Philippines, carried with them ideological elements. While the colonial regimes have ended, their ideological legacies endure. These functionalist, individualist and residual philosophies of social welfare continue to have a strong and unchallenged influence on contemporary social work practice.

Internationalizing the struggle against neoliberal social policy: the experience of Canadian women

K.-L. Tang and H. Peters

International Social Work, vol.49, 2006, p.571-582

This article shows how international instruments can be used to defend social welfare provision against government cutbacks, using social action by the women’s movement in British Columbia as a case study. Using a framework informed by feminist perspectives, the authors show how the personal and the political are connected and how the local and the global can be related. They also demonstrate how advocacy can be a powerful strategy available to social workers in support of vulnerable groups.

Reforming early retirement in Europe, Japan and the USA

B. Ebbinghaus

Oxford: OUP, 2006

Early exit from work emerged as a social practice for two main reasons: (1) as an unintended consequence of the expansion of social rights and (2) as a deliberate policy to facilitate economic restructuring and reduce unemployment. The book argues that the social partners – employer associations and trade unions in the political and economic arenas, and management and workers’ representatives at firm level – play an important role in facilitating and using early exit from work. Facing the negative consequences of the expansion of early retirement, governments seek to reverse the early exit trend, although they face multiple obstacles, including resistance by the social partners. The book explores the issue of policy reversal by comparing welfare regimes, production systems and labour relations in ten OECD countries.

The reforms of health care finance in Hong Kong and urban China: a mixed attitude to social welfare

W. K. Yu

Critical Social Policy, vol.26, 2006, p.843-864

Intense competition for investment from increasingly mobile capitalists makes many governments develop an ambivalent attitude to social welfare provision. On the one hand they acknowledge the importance of social welfare provision for creating a stable investment environment by ameliorating social problems and reducing unrest. On the other hand, they are concerned that investors may be put off if they have to pay higher taxes to finance the welfare state and/or higher wages to tempt people off benefits and into work. This paper explores how the governments of China and Hong Kong have sought to resolve this dilemma, using the introduction of social health insurance schemes financed by employers’ and employees’ contributions as a case study.

Tax mixes and the size of the welfare state: causal mechanisms and policy implications

S. Ganghof

Journal of European Social Policy, vol.16, 2006, p.360-373

This paper questions the argument that early reliance on regressive taxes (consumption taxes and social security contributions) has been conducive to building large welfare states. It is argued here that the high cost of extensive social welfare provision leads to reliance on one or two major regressive taxes, rather than the other way round. The author accepts that taxing capital is relatively costly in economic, political and administrative terms. However, reliance on regressive taxes is not the only way to moderate the tax burden on capital. Another way is to grant privileges within income taxes to the taxation of income from capital.

The temporal welfare state: a crossnational comparison

J.M. Rice, R.L. Goodin and A. Parpo

Journal of Public Policy, vol.26, 2006, p.195-228

This paper measures the impact of welfare state interventions on the amount of free time available to people outside the time it is necessary for them to spend on paid work, household chores and personal care. The impact of government taxes, income transfers and childcare subsidies is measured using income and time use surveys in Australia, France, Sweden, the USA and Germany, which represent the principal types of welfare and gender regimes.

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