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Welfare reform on the Web (January 2007): Social security - Overseas

Can decentralization alleviate labour market dysfunctions in marginal jurisdictions? Active labour market policies in Nova Scotia and Saxony-Anhalt

R. Haddow, S.G. Schneider and T.R. Klassen

Canadian Public Policy, vol.32, 2006, p.317-337

It is currently fashionable to decentralise responsibility for active labour market policies on the grounds that: 1) competition among subnational governments in federal states promotes effective regional policies; or that 2) regional strategies increase the chances of ensuring trust and cooperation among firms. This article questions these perspectives. It is argued that where regional governments lack resources, and where their efforts are constrained by the competing goals of other public actors or an infelicitous social setting, they are unlikely to profit from devolution and implement successful active labour market programmes.

Developing positive action policies: learning from the experiences of Europe and North America

R.S. Dhami, J. Squires and T. Modood

Department for Work and Pensions, 2006 (Research report; no.406)

This research examines how low levels of ethnic minority employment have been tackled across the European Union and in North America. It explores whether positive action initiatives in Northern Ireland, the Netherlands, Canada and the United States have been successful and if they could be applied in Britain.

Housing allowances and economic efficiency

M.E.A. Haffner and P.J. Boelhouwer

International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, vol.30, 2006, p.944-959

Means-tested housing allowances aim to make rented accommodation affordable for low-income households. However they potentially offer disincentives to paid employment, encourage over-consumption of housing and exclude some needy applicants who fail to meet eligibility criteria. This article explores some of the outcomes of means-tested housing allowance systems in six Western countries: Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, the UK, the USA and Sweden.

Social redistribution in federalised Belgium

B. Cantillon and others

West European Politics, vol. 29, 2006, p. 1034-1056

In recent decades, Belgium has transformed from a unitary to a federal state in which the various communities and regions have their own designated areas of competence. In the field of social policy, only social security has remained the responsibility of the central government. However, there have been calls for further federalisation in this policy area. The prominence of inter-regional financial transfers fuels such calls, while its opponents point out that federalisation would result in greater poverty and inequality in Wallonia, a Region that is already disadvantaged in economic terms. This paper begins by outlining the territorial organisation of social policy in a federated Belgium. Next, it analyses social transfers between Flanders and Wallonia, focusing on their size and determinants. These transfers have a considerable equalising and anti-poverty effect. Finally, it explores the theoretical arguments for and against federalising social policy, with illustrative examples.

State UI job search rules and reemployment services

C.J. O’Leary

Monthly Labor Review, vol.129, June 2006, p.27-37

Ever since the US Federal-State umemployment insurance (UI) system was implemented in 1935, the reemployment of claimants has been an important emphasis of the programme. This article examines whether UI requirements pertaining to job searches and UI mechanisms connecting claimants with reemployment services tend to shorten spells out of work. Evidence is presented from a 2003 survey of all State UI programmes. Also presented is evidence about the effect of State UI policies and remployment assistance on the duration of insured unemployment. Although the sizes of the estimated impacts differ, the consistent finding is that both UI work search requirements and UI reemployment services tend to shorten claimants’ spells of insured unemployment by speeding their return to work.

Third stage of government’s employment plan launched

Anon.

European Industrial Relations Review, issue 394, 2006, p.33-35

The French government has recently launched the third stage of its employment plan, along with a reform of social dialogue structures and processes. The plan contains a range of measures, including those designed to increase purchasing power, encourage job creation and help young people to find work.

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