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Recasting the Welfare State 20 years later

Dates:
  • Thu 14 Mar 2019 14.00 - 17.45
  • Fri 15 Mar 2019 09.00 - 16.30
  Add to Calendar 2019-03-14 14:00 2019-03-15 16:30 Europe/Paris Recasting the Welfare State 20 years later

The welfare state is perhaps the most successful feat of mid-twentieth-century social engineering. Since the Second World War, West-European welfare states virtually eradicated old-age poverty, provided universal access to health care and education, and established social security in the cases of unemployment and sickness as a matter of social citizenship right. Over the long run, European welfare states have been hard pressed to reform by deep economic crises, but also by more slow- burning developments of demographic ageing, deindustrialization, the rise of the service sector, technological change, the feminization of the labour market, economic internationalization, European Union market integration, and intensified migration. Throughout, one of the surprising features of the post-war welfare state, confronted with many cumulative challenges, constitutes its very resilience. Public spending on social protection, health and education, today, in the aftermath of the Great Recession, matches the levels already achieved in the 1980s in the wake of the Stagflation crisis of the 1970s. Unsurprisingly, explaining the staying power of the welfare state became a favorite pastime in comparative research, spearheaded by the seminal work of Paul Pierson on ‘irresistible forces’ being deflected by ‘immovable objects’ in an age of ‘permanent austerity’. But is institutional resilience merely about the frozen status quo? Constant aggregate spending there can hide significant reallocation between different welfare programs. By the same token, stable coverage rates is a poor indicator of performance, in terms of employment, relative poverty or inequality, as particular social risks intensify for particular groups while others subside for more privileged cohorts. In the new millennium, the academic focus in comparative welfare state research decidedly shifted from change-resistant welfare states to an improved understandings of how welfare state in effect do change. Welfare reform is difficult, but it happens. As post-industrial change reconfigures the nature of social risks, life chances are modified, potentially raising augmented political pressures to reform welfare provision. The proliferation of ‘new’ social risks of working poverty, job instability, long-term unemployment, skill-depletion, single parenting, and work-life strain, alongside ‘old’ social risks of cyclical unemployment, sickness and old age, have, in recent decades, inescapably urged policy makers to embark on welfare reform trajectories to adapt their welfare system to the new post-industrial environment at a time of intensified economic interdependence, especially, for the Member States of the European Union.

Sala Europa - Villa Schifanoia DD/MM/YYYY
  Sala Europa - Villa Schifanoia

The welfare state is perhaps the most successful feat of mid-twentieth-century social engineering. Since the Second World War, West-European welfare states virtually eradicated old-age poverty, provided universal access to health care and education, and established social security in the cases of unemployment and sickness as a matter of social citizenship right. Over the long run, European welfare states have been hard pressed to reform by deep economic crises, but also by more slow- burning developments of demographic ageing, deindustrialization, the rise of the service sector, technological change, the feminization of the labour market, economic internationalization, European Union market integration, and intensified migration. Throughout, one of the surprising features of the post-war welfare state, confronted with many cumulative challenges, constitutes its very resilience. Public spending on social protection, health and education, today, in the aftermath of the Great Recession, matches the levels already achieved in the 1980s in the wake of the Stagflation crisis of the 1970s. Unsurprisingly, explaining the staying power of the welfare state became a favorite pastime in comparative research, spearheaded by the seminal work of Paul Pierson on ‘irresistible forces’ being deflected by ‘immovable objects’ in an age of ‘permanent austerity’. But is institutional resilience merely about the frozen status quo? Constant aggregate spending there can hide significant reallocation between different welfare programs. By the same token, stable coverage rates is a poor indicator of performance, in terms of employment, relative poverty or inequality, as particular social risks intensify for particular groups while others subside for more privileged cohorts. In the new millennium, the academic focus in comparative welfare state research decidedly shifted from change-resistant welfare states to an improved understandings of how welfare state in effect do change. Welfare reform is difficult, but it happens. As post-industrial change reconfigures the nature of social risks, life chances are modified, potentially raising augmented political pressures to reform welfare provision. The proliferation of ‘new’ social risks of working poverty, job instability, long-term unemployment, skill-depletion, single parenting, and work-life strain, alongside ‘old’ social risks of cyclical unemployment, sickness and old age, have, in recent decades, inescapably urged policy makers to embark on welfare reform trajectories to adapt their welfare system to the new post-industrial environment at a time of intensified economic interdependence, especially, for the Member States of the European Union.


Location:
Sala Europa - Villa Schifanoia

Affiliation:
Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies

Type:
Conference

Organiser:
Prof. Bruno Palier (CEE/LIEPP)
Prof. Anton Hemerijck (EUI - Department of Political and Social Sciences)

Contact:
RSC Conf Unit - Send a mail

Attachment:
Programme

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