by Birgit Pfau-Effinger, Professor of Sociology and Research Director of the Centre for Globalisation and Governance, University of Hamburg, and Professor for Comparative Welfare State Research, Dept. of Political Science and Public Administration, University of Southern Denmark
New welfare state policies for family care work
In the ‘housewife marriage’––the dominant form of the family in most mid-20th century European societies––senior care was mainly organised as unpaid work in the private family household, and was the wife’s duty. Since the 1990s most welfare states have strengthened the attendant social rights and infrastructure to the advantage of senior citizen care provision. As a consequence of this welfare state change, informal, unpaid work in the private sphere of the family has, in part, been transformed into formal, paid care work in the formal employment system outside the family. Several studies have analysed this change in a cross-national perspective (see Pavolini & Ranci, 2008).
It is curious how little traction the idea of the social investment welfare state (SIWS) has had in British social policy discussion. The basic idea behind SIWS is that some forms of public social spending contribute positively to creating an innovative economy. Spending on education, skills and active labour market policy are the most obvious elements, but spending on high-quality childcare is also part of the concept. This is partly for its contribution to early-years education but also for making life reasonable for the two-parent-earner family that increasingly characterizes the most productive economies. Of course, elements of this enter British discussions, especially education, but it comes in piecemeal, whereas it gains most strength Continue reading The social investment welfare state: the missing theme in British social policy debates→
What do social democratic parties do after they regain power after the Third Way? This was the guiding question for our study of the public policies of the current Danish social democratic government (2011-2015). The Third Way (TW), with Britain’s New Labour as its forerunner, was at first a successful strategy for many European social democratic parties to regain power after long bourgeois incumbencies in the 1980s and 1990s. However, it usually ended in electoral disaster since TW policies did not square with the preferences and values of many social democratic core voters who then abstained or shifted to Continue reading Where next after the third way?→
“Arguments about poverty,” note Paul Copeland and Mary Daly in a recent article, “go to the heart of political disagreement in Europe,” because they express profound differences about social policy and models of capitalism. The European commitment to fight poverty and social exclusion has thus moved over the years, from the ambitious decision to make social inclusion an explicit goal governed by the new Open Method of Coordination (OMC) with the Lisbon strategy in 2000, to a more circumscribed vision giving priority to economic growth and job creation after 2005, and to an ambiguous but nevertheless explicit quantitative target agreed upon in the summer of 2010, “to lift at least 20 million people out of the risk of poverty and social exclusion” by 2020. But changing orientations at the European level are not the only manifestation of political disagreement about poverty. Important differences are also expressed through the distinct ways member states have interpreted the common objectives. Continue reading The Politics of Poverty in the European Union→
Liberal welfare states like Australia and Canada are often assumed to rely centrally on market mechanisms to provide welfare. Typically, in these countries, fewer obligations are owed by adult family members to other adults family members than in conservative welfare states. However, in the area of immigrant welfare, my research reveals that immigrant sponsors are increasingly bearing the brunt of financial costs of their parents and partners. Immigration selection policies place enduring contractual obligations upon adult immigrant sponsors to support their grown relatives, sometimes for long periods of time following immigration entry. These new forms of contractual obligations not only illuminate the stringent world of immigrant welfare provision, they also extend our understanding of familialism within welfare studies. Continue reading Welfare restrictions place financial pressure on new immigrant families→