The activation dilemma

The activation dilemma: Reconciling the fairness and effectiveness of minimum income schemes in Europe

Amilcar Moreira
Copyright Date: 2008
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt9qgtkr
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  • Book Info
    The activation dilemma
    Book Description:

    The activation of social welfare recipients has been, and still is, a central issue in the development of social and employment policies in Europe. This ambitious book explores the employment effectiveness of minimum income schemes, and provides the first comprehensive examination of its dependency on how the rights and obligations of the recipients are defined. The book argues that the right to a minimum income can only be adequately justified with reference to the individual's right to personal development. Combining political theory and policy analysis, the author draws on evidence from eight different European countries to illustrate how it is possible to combine higher levels of employment effectiveness with the respect for recipients' right to personal development. Exploring the balance between fairness and effectiveness in the activation of minimum income recipients and acknowledging that individuals have both rights and obligations, this book will provide a useful reference tool to students, researchers and policy-makers with an interest in the work versus welfare nexus.

    eISBN: 978-1-84742-354-2
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. List of tables and figures
    (pp. vi-vii)
  4. List of abbreviations
    (pp. viii-viii)
  5. Acknowledgements
    (pp. ix-x)
  6. ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-16)

    Minimum income schemes occupy a pivotal role in the overall architecture of social protection systems in Europe and other advanced economies. Commonly referred to as (general) social assistance (see Eardley et al, 1996a, p 28), or as safety-nets (Cox, 1998, p 397), these schemes provide the ultimate layer of income protection for those in need. They are the most evident expression of a societal commitment that all individuals are entitled to a dignified existence and that no one should experience unwanted need.

    For the sake of clarity, minimum income schemes can be defined as schemes that provide a financial safety-net...

  7. TWO The right to a minimum income: between Mead and Van Parijs
    (pp. 17-32)

    As seen in Chapter One, the introduction of activation requirements has generated a debate over the conditional nature of the right to a minimum income. Going through the literature, it can be observed that this debate crosses over various domains within political theory. This chapter will try to determine if the arguments presented by Mead and Van Parijs, who typify the fundamental standpoints in the literature on this topic, provide an adequate justification for the right to a minimum income.

    One of the domains within political theory that is relevant to the justification of the provision of the right to...

  8. THREE Justifying a minimum income guarantee: the right to personal development
    (pp. 33-48)

    Reflecting on Mead and Van Parijs’ failure to provide an adequate justification of the right to a minimum income, Chapter Two argued that a more satisfactory alternative is possible. This chapter aims to develop a normative framework to provide such justification. As demonstrated earlier, the reason behind Mead and Van Parijs’ failure lies in their assumptions about the relation between the individual, the market and society that underlie their work. Therefore, the first step in this endeavour will be to delve into the literature that sets the foundations of modern social and political theory to find an ontological framework from...

  9. FOUR The activation dilemma: a comparative study
    (pp. 49-64)

    As seen in previous chapters, besides the discussion about the terms in which the right to a minimum income can be justified, the introduction of activation requirements in minimum income schemes has prompted a debate about how schemes should balance the need to help recipients to (re)gain their self-sufficiency through paid work, with the respect of their rights (see Chapter One). Having demonstrated that the right to personal development can provide adequate justification for the right to a minimum income, this normative framework will serve as the standpoint from which to analyse the balance between fairness and effectiveness in the...

  10. FIVE Measuring respect for the right to personal development
    (pp. 65-84)

    In line with the plan of analysis outlined earlier, the purpose of this chapter is to measure the respect for recipients’ right to personal development in the schemes under analysis. As seen earlier, this normative framework states that every individual has a right to exploit his/her talents, which can be exercised while performing a social function in society, such as paid employment, unpaid work in social economy organisations or providing care to dependent family members, or improving his/her human capital through education or training. In order to secure this right, social actors and institutions must:

    meet the individual’s basic consumption...

  11. SIX The employment effectiveness of minimum income schemes
    (pp. 85-96)

    Having measured respect for recipients’ right to personal development, we now turn to the schemes’ employment effectiveness. Before moving on to the analysis, we should clarify what is actually meant by employment effectiveness. As mentioned earlier (see Chapter One), activation here means a policy of combining negative and positive incentives with the purpose of helping income support recipients to become self-sufficient through paid employment. This has implications for the measurement of the employment effectiveness of minimum income schemes, in particular regarding the treatment of subsidised work, which cannot be considered to represent a fully self-sufficient form of existence for recipients....

  12. SEVEN The employment effectiveness of minimum income schemes and their respect for the right to personal development
    (pp. 97-114)

    Having measured the schemes’ employment effectiveness and their respect for recipients’ right to personal development, this chapter now uses simple correlational tools, QCA and cluster analysis to test the hypothesis that minimum income schemes that show more respect for the right to personal development, once labour market conditions are accounted for, will present higher levels of employment effectiveness.

    As can be seen from Table 7.1, there is no systematic relationship between a scheme’s respect for the right to personal development and their marginal employment effectiveness. Therefore we cannot corroborate the hypothesis posed earlier. This reflects the variety of situations found...

  13. EIGHT Conclusion
    (pp. 115-126)

    At the start of this book, it was argued that the introduction of activation requirements had raised two sorts of questions. The first refers to the way in which the provision of the right to a minimum income can be adequately justified. As seen earlier, this debate is centred on the question of whether the right to a minimum income should be made conditional on an individual’s commitment to reciprocate this support by making a contribution to society (mainly through paid employment). This question entails two further issues. The first concerns the opportunities available to individuals for making a contribution...

  14. Appendix A: Methodology for benefit comparison
    (pp. 127-132)
  15. Appendix B: Unemployment reintegration capacity (URC): sensitivity analysis
    (pp. 133-134)
  16. Appendix C: Qualitative comparative analysis: laws of Boolean algebra
    (pp. 135-136)
  17. References
    (pp. 137-148)
  18. Index
    (pp. 149-155)
  19. Back Matter
    (pp. 156-158)