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

Bureaucratic effects: 'Weberian' state agencies and poverty reduction

J. Henderson and others

Sociology, vol. 41, 2007, p. 515-532

Evans and Rauch (1999) have shown that there is a relationship between a country’s economic growth and the quality of its public institutions. This analysis of data for 29 developing and middle income countries for 1970-1990 shows that there is also a relationship between the effectiveness of states’ public institutions and their ability to reduce poverty.

The economic consequences of the welfare state

I. Mares

International Social Security Review, vol. 60, Apr.-Sept. 2007, p. 65-81

This essay surveys existing research examining the relationship between the size of the welfare state and economic growth, on the one hand, and employment on the other. The review of the literature examining the economic consequences of the welfare state presents us with an important puzzle. Theoretical predictions of a negative relationship between higher levels of social protection and growth and employment have not been supported by empirical research. Two broad sets of explanations can account for the disjunction between the predictions of standard economic theories about the impact of the welfare state and the empirical findings. In the first place, investment in programmes that improve healthcare and education produces economic gains that offset the effects of the higher taxes required to finance the welfare state. Secondly, research examining the employment consequences of the welfare state has shown that the impact of social policies on economic outcomes depends on, and is mediated by, pre-existing institutions and policies. Some institutions create incentives for firms and workers to internalise the consequences of higher social security spending, which can offset the adverse effects of higher taxes on employment.

Industrial relations as a source of social policy: a typology of institutional conditions for industrial agreements on social benefits

C. Trampusch

Social Policy and Administration, vol. 41, 2007, p. 251-270

This article argues that state provision of income support may in certain circumstances be replaced by benefits negotiated collectively by trade unions and employers. Drawing on Thomas H. Marshall’s distinction between political and industrial citizenship, the author suggests a typology of institutional contexts within which collectively negotiated benefits evolve and develop. The typology which is set out maintains that the creation of a collectively negotiated welfare system strongly depends, on the one hand, on the degree of state activity in labour relations - hence the state’s role in collective bargaining and government tax, labour and social security legislation supporting industrial agreements on social benefits - and, on the other hand, on the timing of the institutionalisation of industrial and political citizenship rights - hence of the channels of functional and territorial interest representation. This typology is applied to Denmark, France, the Netherlands and Germany, countries where collective agreements on social benefits have recently been concluded.

Poverty reduction – an effective means of population control: theory, evidence and policy

M. Sharif

Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007

The book contends that high fertility is rational in that it achieves short term economic benefit and long term old-age-support for families. Wider macroeconomic effects are not the concern of the individual family. This means that the fertility choices of the poor are not a result of ignorance. The objective of the book is to drive home the fact that it is poverty that is responsible for high fertility and that until the problem of poverty is effectively dealt with the problem of high fertility will continue to persist. It concludes with a series of policy recommendations for the eradication of poverty.

Re-familisation of the Czech family policy and its causes

S. Saxonberg and T. Sirovátka

International Review of Sociology, vol. 17, 2007, p. 319-341

Before the fall of Communism in 1989 women in Czechoslovakia were encouraged to engage in paid work through easy access to daycare for children. However they remained primarily responsible for running the home and raising their children. Since the fall of Communism, the Czech Republic has enacted a series of conservative family policies which encourage women to leave the labour market and raise children. These policies have failed to reach their goals in that female participation in the labour market has remained quite high. Instead, women have chosen not to have children. Since 1989 fertility rates have fallen to nearly half their previous level and there are no signs of recovery.

The return to social policy and the persistent neglect of unpaid care

S. Razavi

Development and Change, vol.38, 2007, p. 377-400

Equality and redistribution have been replaced in recent years as core values underpinning public policy by a market-oriented logic that introduces individualised methods of risk and benefit calculation into social insurance programmes and weakens public service provision. This logic condemns core values of solidarity and redistribution and penalises those whose contributions are unpaid or on the periphery of the formal economy. The author calls for the introduction of measures to both recognise the value of unpaid care through a range of social welfare benefits and reduce the burden of care on women by encouraging men to do more of it.

Social policy and collective action: unemployed workers, community associations, and protest in Argentina

C. Garay

Politics and Society, vol. 35, 2007, p. 301-328

Argentina has witnessed a dramatic increase in collective action by unemployed and informal workers. Between 1997 and 2003 it experienced an annual average of 137 acts of protest, including roadblocks and demonstrations. This mobilisation resulted in the formation of national-level unemployed federations and fronts composed of hundreds of community associations that focused on work-related issues and national policy demands. The author argues that certain features of the design of a national workfare programme launched in 1996 fostered collective action among unemployed and informal workers. As a result of this protest movement, social welfare provision for unemployed and informal workers has expanded significantly.

Women as workers and as carers under Communism and after: the case of Bulgaria

S. Koeva and S. Bould

International Review of Sociology, vol. 17, 2007, p. 303-318

Under the Communist regime all women were required to join the workforce and were supported to do so through the provision of maternity leave and universal state-funded childcare plus a guarantee of employment for all. After the fall of Communism public childcare was scrapped and families had to rely on relatives or pay for private provision. Women with children also face discrimination in the workplace and can be sacked when they become pregnant or if they take time off to care for sick children. Difficulties with combining work and family responsibilities have led to restrictions on fertility and heavy use of abortion to limit care giving responsibilities.

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