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A New Social Question?

A New Social Question?: On Minimum Income Protection in the Postindustrial Era

Ive Marx
Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    A New Social Question?
    Book Description:

    Advanced welfare states are said to be facing, in the words of Pierre Rosanvallon, a "New Social Question". The idea here, and it is a widely shared one, is that the transition from an industrial to a postindustrial environment has brought with it a whole new set of social risks, constraints and trade-offs which necessitate radical recalibration of social security systems. This book analyses in some depth how economic change has impacted on minimum income protection in advanced welfare states. There is a particular focus on how Bismarckian welfare states have fared over recent decades. This title is available in the OAPEN Library -

    eISBN: 978-90-485-0344-5
    Subjects: Economics, Political Science, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-8)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 9-20)

    A pervasive sense of pessimism and even a degree of defeatism have dominated the welfare state literature ever since the first oil shock put an abrupt end to the now-mythical ‘Golden Age’ of welfare capitalism. That a general sense of dread came to prevail in the years immediately after the oil price shocks of the mid- to late 1970s is scarcely surprising; the consequences of the economic crisis that ensued were after all both brutal and profound. The general economic slowdown brought about a collapse in the demand for labour precisely at a time when many youngsters (the sizable post-war...

  4. Part 1 The Decline of Self-Reliance and the Labour Demand Shift against the Less-skilled:: Conjectures, Facts and Explanations

    • 1 The Decline of Self-Reliance in Advanced Welfare States
      (pp. 23-60)

      Over the past decade or so, the idea has gained ground that, as Rosanvallon (1995) has put it in hisLa Nouvelle Question Sociale, ‘economic redundancy’ is on the rise in the advanced economies. The idea here is that there is less and less need in advanced economies for people who lack appropriate schooling or intellectual, creative or social talents.

      To quote Esping-Andersen: ‘As servicing becomes the life-blood of our existence, privilege is bestowed upon the knowledge strata. Yet, there are huge areas of servicing which are labour intensive and low-skilled. The lower end of servicing society is where we...

    • 2 The Demand Shift against the Less-Skilled
      (pp. 61-94)

      The findings of chapter 1 appear consistent with the hypothesis that the less-skilled are finding it increasingly difficult to attain a reasonable standard of living in the labour market. But is this a valid perception? The reality is that we have remained pretty much in the dark regarding the extent to which job scarcity (or insufficient job expansion) is really the major factor behind the rises in pre-transfer poverty and benefit dependency.

      In this part we look for answers in the available empirical literature, mostly in the field of labour economics. What I attempt here is to collect, interpret and...

  5. Part 2 New Social Risks, Poverty and the Adequacy of Social Protection

    • 3 Low Pay and Poverty: Anatomy of a ʹNewʹ Social Risk
      (pp. 97-120)

      The next two chapters are about the poverty and social policy consequences of the labour demand shifts documented in the previous chapters. The demand shift against the less-skilled is thought to have given rise to two major ‘new’ social risks: structural unemployment and low-paid employment. This first chapter of the second part looks at the poverty consequences of low pay.¹

      There is widespread concern that ‘poverty in work’ has worsened in countries that have seen a rise in earnings inequality and as a direct consequence of this an increase in the incidence of relatively low-paid work. To compensate for the...

    • 4 On the Limits to Incrementalism in Income Protection Policy: The Case of Structural Unemployment in Belgium
      (pp. 123-164)

      Structural unemployment is the second major ‘new social risk’ habitually associated with structural change in the labour market, particularly the demand shift against the less-skilled. As I proposed in the general introduction, it is often said that the traditional pillars of income protection – social insurance and social assistance – are not particularly well-adapted for dealing with the social risk of unemployment as it presents itself today, i.e., as a problem of structural labour market exclusion rather than as a risk-induced and typically temporary phenomenon. Basically, the claim here is that the distributional effectiveness, the economic efficiency and the political...

  6. Part 3 New Policy Responses Assessed

    • 5 How Responsive Are Poverty Rates to Job Growth?
      (pp. 167-196)

      The 1990s were marked by rising prominence of social policy doctrines which entailed a departure from incrementalism, particularly that which is understood as improved benefit adequacy within the social insurance/social assistance framework. At the centre of these doctrines is the idea that there is and must be a strong complementarity between labour participation and poverty reduction objectives. A noticeable exponent is the Netherlands, where a radical policy shift from passive benefit adequacy towards boosting labour market participation was initiated in the mid-1980s and where it has been vigorously pursued ever since. The Dutch government itself summed up its singular purpose...

    • 6 Alternatives to Passive Income Support: The Verdict of Empirical Evaluation Studies
      (pp. 201-234)

      As noted in the previous chapter, the past decade has been marked by increased efforts to re-integrate those who have slipped into passive, long-term benefit dependency back into the labour market. The approach is two-pronged: ‘to make work possible’ and ‘to make work pay’, that is to say, to stimulate labour demand and to stimulate labour supply.

      This chapter looks at the empirical evaluation literature. In the first section, we look at measures aimed at boosting labour demand, specifically through employment subsidies and reductions in employers’ social security contributions for the recruitment of long-term unemployed persons and other vulnerable groups...

  7. Overall Conclusion
    (pp. 235-242)

    It has become a central tenet of the current welfare state literature that we now live in an economic environment that is fundamentally different from the one which prevailed when the core institutions of modern income protection came to maturity. French sociologist Pierre Rosanvallon has suggested that advanced welfare states are confronted with as much as a ‘New Social Question’. Many others have made or have come close to making similar claims. The following quote from Esping-Andersen et al. (2002, p. 2) is reflective of much of current thinking:

    We are in the midst of economic upheaval, the emergence of...

  8. List of Tables and Figures
    (pp. 243-248)
  9. References
    (pp. 249-282)
  10. Index
    (pp. 283-287)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 288-288)