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Welfare Reform on the Web (June 2007): Welfare state - overseas

Administering welfare reform: international transformations in welfare governance

P. Henman and M. Fenger (editors)

Bristol: Policy Press, 2006

While reforms of welfare policies have been widely analysed, the reform of welfare administration has received far less attention. This book provides new insights into the way welfare administration is being internationally transformed. Particular attention is given to the effect on welfare clients, staff and agencies. The book concentrates on the practical side of welfare reform and:

  • Presents a critical analysis of governance practices in welfare administration
  • Examines shifts in the participants, practices and processes of welfare administration
  • Presents empirical case studies that highlight the effects of reforming welfare governance on welfare subjects, staff and agencies
  • Provides a much needed international and comparative perspective on changing welfare governance

Babies, budgets and birthrates: work/family policy in Australia 1996-2006

D. Brennan

Social Politics, vol. 14, 2007, p. 31-57

This article focuses on the development of work/family life reconciliation policies since 1996 when a conservative government was elected in Australia. It explores three policy domains which are central to Australia’s work/family agenda: family payments, parental leave, and childcare provision. Changes in these areas are placed in the context of the government’s broader strategies concerning labour market flexibility, tax reform and falling birthrates. The general thrust of conservative government policies have been to discourage labour force participation by mothers of young children, with the exception of lone parents.

Beyond the welfare state?: the new political economy of welfare. 3rd edition

C. Pierson

Cambridge: Polity, 2006

This is a comprehensive and up-to-date text on the emergence and development of welfare states. It offers an introduction to the debates surrounding the history and the future of welfare in advanced industrialized states. This third edition embraces all the most important theoretical and empirical developments in welfare state studies of recent years. It surveys the issues impacting on the future of welfare: among them, globalization, demographic change, declining fertility, post industrialism and immigration. The book draws extensively on the explosion of work on welfare states that has emerged within the North American political science community over the past ten years, as well as giving attention to developments in the UK, and in continental and northern Europe.

Decentralisation and poverty: conceptual framework and application to Uganda

S. Steiner

Public Administration and Development, vol. 27, 2007, p. 175-185

It has come to be widely accepted in recent years that decentralisation can be conducive to poverty reduction because local governments are assumed to have better information and higher incentives than the central government to design and implement policies that meet local needs. This article introduces a conceptual framework for analysing the relationship between decentralisation and poverty and applies it to the situation in Uganda. The analysis shows that the benefits of decentralisation are not always realised due to limited human capital and financial resources, restricted local autonomy, corruption and patronage, high administrative costs related to decentralisation, and low downward accountability.

Does paid work enhance women’s access to welfare? Evidence from selected industrializing countries

S. Razavi

Social Politics, vol. 14, 2007, p.58-92

Citizenship rights have become associated, both symbolically and programmatically, with a person’s capacity to engage in paid work. For feminists this raises the key question of whether women’s participation in paid work can become the basis for their inclusion in welfare settlements. The question is examined here through exploration of the extent to which women’s absorption into manufacturing industries has facilitated access to social welfare rights (pensions and healthcare) in three industrialising countries (China, South Korea and Mexico).

Neo-liberalism and social policy: the politics of ownership

D. Béland

Policy Studies, vol.28, 2007, p. 91-107

During and after the 2004 US presidential campaign, George W. Bush and his allies promoted a policy blueprint that promised to reshape social policy: the 'ownership society'. According to this blueprint, the federal government should promote home ownership and private savings in order to increase the participation of US citizens in the capitalist 'American Dream'. This article explores the plan in comparative and historical perspective.

Obfuscating retrenchment: Swedish welfare policy in the 1990s

A. Lindbom

Journal of Public Policy, vol. 27, 2007, p. 129-150

Pierson’s analysis of the new politics of the welfare state argues that it has created large numbers of clients that defend the programmes that benefit them. Their opposition to retrenchment is so powerful that politicians dare not make cuts in high profile programmes, but focus on implementing cutbacks that can be hidden from voters. Hence we have a politics of blame-avoidance rather than one of credit claiming. Analysis of Swedish welfare policy in the 1990s shows that programmes susceptible to non-transparent reforms have suffered greater cuts than other programmes. Retirement pensions on the other hand were least targeted for cuts because they were defended by influential pensioners’ organisations.

The roles of the family and the welfare state: the relationship between public and private financial support in Sweden

U. Björnberg and M. Latta

Current Sociology, vol.55, 2007, p. 415-445

It is commonly assumed that the welfare state has contributed to weakening a sense of personal and family responsibility in Swedish families. This article investigates the interrelationship between public and private financial support, using results of a 2001 survey of 2666 individuals. Results show that, in general, amounts of private help are quite modest. Very few give or receive large gifts of money. Financial transfers take the form of allowances and help in certain specific situations, rather than maintenance on a more regular basis. It is primarily young, unmarried people with low incomes who receive economic support. It is concluded that, in some situations, economic needs motivate family members to give financial support, primarily as complementary to the support provided by the welfare state.

Welfare states in developing countries: unique or universal?

N. Rudra

Journal of Politics, vol. 69, 2007, p. 378-396

This analysis identifies the existence of two ideal types of welfare states in the developing world. Cluster analysis shows that welfare states in less developed countries are either focused on promoting market development (a productive welfare state) or on protecting selected individuals from the market (a protective welfare state). A third group with elements of both approaches also emerges: the weak dual welfare state.

Working to exit poverty while caring for children’s health and development in Vietnam

P.H. Vo, K. Penrose and J. Heymann

Community, Work and Family, vol. 10, 2007, p. 179-199

This study sheds light on the experiences of parents struggling economically while caring for their children in Ho Chi Minh City. Some parents had to leave formal work for lower paid informal employment in order to care for their children because child care was either inaccessible or inadequate. Fifty-eight per cent of parents explained that they had lost income due to caring for sick children. They either had limited or no paid leave, or were unable to provide care without unpaid absences, decreasing productivity at work, or temporarily closing a business. Fifty per cent of parents with school age children experienced barriers to helping with homework, to attending meetings, or to participating in other aspects of their children’s education. Vietnam has made significant progress in providing early childhood care and education and legislating labour laws. However, more needs to be done to ensure that working families have access to paid leave, flexible hours and high quality childcare.

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