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

Economic conditions and public attitudes to welfare policies

M. Blekesaune

European Sociological Review, vol. 23, 2007, p. 393-403

This article investigates whether support for the welfare state increases in periods of economic strain and high unemployment. The question is explored by analysing changes in public attitudes to state responsibility for income redistribution and economic provision in 39 countries between 1990 and 2000 using data from successive waves of the World Value Survey. The analysis confirms that lower employment rates are associated with public support for increased government responsibility for economic provision and income redistribution. Increased financial strain is associated with stronger support for state responsibility for economic provision, but not for income redistribution. Results indicate that public attitudes to state welfare provision are predictable and rational.

Immigration and the evolving American welfare state: examining policies in the US states

R.E. Hero and R.R. Preuhs

American Journal of Political Science, vol. 51, 2007, p. 498-517

The 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunities Reconciliation Act gave US states more control over eligibility for welfare benefits. In particular, the reform made immigrants ineligible for federal welfare funds for five years after their arrival. However, states were allowed to provide their own funds to meet immigrants' welfare needs. This study explored why states choose to extend welfare eligibility to immigrants at their own expense, and how the decision to include a wider set of potential recipients affects overall benefit levels through the lens of three major theoretical interpretations of inclusion and benefit levels: a normative/ideological model, an erosion model, and the racial/social diversity model. The analysis suggests that decisions regarding inclusion do subsequently affect benefit levels, with the direction of these relationships most closely following the erosion model's prediction of broader eligibility associated with lower benefit levels.

Lisbon and social Europe: towards a European 'adult worker model' welfare system

C. Annesley

Journal of European Social Policy, vol.17, 2007, p. 195-205

The Lisbon process, launched in 2000 and relaunched in 2005 to make Europe the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-driven economy by 2010, revived the debate about the existence and status of a European social model. This article outlines the characteristics of the European social model encapsulated by Lisbon, and characterises this as an example of the Adult Worker Model social system, in which all adults (male and female, young and old, able and disabled) are required to take formal employment to secure their economic independence. It then identifies evidence of a development in this direction in the European Employment Strategy guideline from 1997 through to the 2005 integrated macroeconomic and employment guidelines.

Social capital and health in European welfare regimes: a multilevel approach

M. Rostila

Journal of European Social Policy, vol. 17, 2007, p. 223-239

It has been suggested that welfare state characteristics are important for the creation of social trust and that trust is related to health. This article examines how welfare regimes, trust and self-rated health are related, primarily with multilevel logistic regressions. The findings suggest large variations in trust between European welfare regimes and a strong association between trust and health at population level.

Social expenditure and the politics of redistribution

F.G. Castles and H. Obinger

Journal of European Social Policy, vol. 17, 2007, p. 206-222

For some time the OECD has provided information on net (after tax) public and private social expenditure for an increasingly large number of member states. This has enabled researchers Adema and Ladaique to produce more comprehensive measures of social support by taking into account the impact of taxes and private spending on social expenditure in a group of more than 20 countries. This article offers a critique of Adema and Ladaique's research. It concludes that countries which levy high taxes on the middle classes can afford to spend a lot on the higher benefits required to alleviate poverty and reduce inequality. This redistributive mechanism of high taxation and high spending on benefits is set in motion by partisan politics.

Welfare regimes, employment systems and job preference orientations

D. Gallie

European Sociological Review, vol. 23, 2007, p. 279-293

There is currently little knowledge of the extent of variations in job preferences between countries or their determinants. However, there are plausible arguments that job preferences (ie what employees want out of a job) may be affected by the protectiveness of the welfare system, by the nature of the production regime, and by the salience of work reform policies in particular societies. This study has sought to take these debates further by using two cross-national datasets, providing identical indicators of job preferences, to compare Denmark, Finland, Germany, Great Britain and Sweden. It found little evidence that either production or welfare regimes have a substantial effect on job preferences. Much of the difference between countries could be accounted for in terms of differences in workforce composition. There was, however, support for the view that variations between societies in the prevalence of good quality jobs help account for differences in motivational patterns.

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