Can Welfare State Reforms In Europe Be Explained By Government Attempts To Improve Economic Efficiency? Discuss With Respect To A Social Policy Reform In Two Countries

2706 words - 11 pages

Can welfare-state reforms in Europe be explained by government attempts to improve economic efficiency? Discuss with respect to a social policy reform in two countries.

1. Introduction:

Pension systems were first introduced in Europe in the late 19th and early 20th century. In the post-war ‘golden era’ of welfare they were subject to wide expansion and increases in the benefits offered. They became the largest source of state welfare expenditure in Europe. However, by the 1980s the ability of these pension schemes to cope with the changing demographics and economic situation was placed under question. Reform was accepted as essential if pension schemes were to remain financially ...view middle of the document...

On the one hand increases in life expectancy, declining fertility rates, and the trend towards early retirement have triggered an increase in the pensioner/worker ratio (Breyer, 2001). This has led to huge increases in the costs involved in sustaining public pensions and necessitates reform in one form or another. Meanwhile, changing social structures such as increased divorce rates, higher levels of atypical work and more females participating in the workforce also led to a realisation that pensions required reform (Schokkaert, E. & Van Parijs, P: 2003:252). Low employment growth has also been a factor in the need for reform.

Despite realisations since the 1970s of the problems these changes presented to pensions reform was and is a notoriously difficult process. This is because there is no clearly defined path or one-size-fits-all solution (Barr, 2010) and the difficulty in successfully negotiating the intensely divisive politics of pension reform.

3. Objectives of Reform

According to Barr (2010:197) pensions have a range of primary objectives. These are to enable consumption smoothing, provide old-age insurance, poverty relief and to redistribute. Reform should then try and create an efficient pension system that uses available resources in the best way possible to achieve these objectives in the face of the aforementioned demographic and social changes. Given the underlying principle of pension schemes in Europe, namely ensuring a certain standard of living for the elderly, pension reformers should consider issues both of economic efficiency and social justice or equity. Thus, reform should aim to restore economic equilibrium via cost containment while also expanding to incorporate those uncovered as a result of changing social structures. Barr (2010:102) states that an increase in efficiency may only be possible at the expense of social justice. Schokkaert, E. & Van Parijs, P (2003: 260) meanwhile argue that focusing on social objectives, with utmost respect and recognition for the demographic necessities, will result in a more effective arrangement that will be ethical and supported by the people. Thus, there is a political-economic question of to what extent are pension reforms driven by economic efficiency or social justice.

4. Constraints

This idea of a trade-off is the central factor in the difficulty in reforming pensions. Regardless of what cuts or extensions are involved pension reforms at least appear (Johnson, 1999) to create winners and losers. So, pension reform generally provokes intense reactions from workers, the elderly, labour organisations and opposition political parties. This is particularly a problem in Bismarckian countries where pension systems focus on pay-as-you-go (PAYG) systems, which are entrenched and mature (Schludi, 2005:44). The rationale of this system is that retiree pensions are funded via the contributions of current workers. Although this is unsustainable and inequitable...

Other Papers Like Can Welfare-State Reforms in Europe Be Explained by Government Attempts to Improve Economic Efficiency? Discuss with Respect to a Social Policy Reform in Two Countries

Human Resource Policy Merger Plan. Paper Attempts To Specify The Plan For Merging Two Very Distinct Companies HR Policies

1481 words - 6 pages , while still being able to pursue its current marketing and publicity campaign with its younger, trendier market. Several HR policies will be added or changed to help drive desired behaviors and accelerate the merger of two very different company cultures. A more flexible workforce will be created that takes advantage of virtual teams and responds to the company's growth goals in a global marketplace. Mentoring and diversity training programs will

How Can We Improve the Efficiency of Mineral Crushing It?

634 words - 3 pages increased when closed around 15-40%. So also played a big role in manual operation, the safety rules of operating equipment can greatly improve production efficiency. In conclusion, the author analyzes the reasons of the above, in addition to the nature of the material itself does not change and other factors can be changed, we need to constantly to avoid such bad factors, and enhance crushing efficiency.

Criticall Discuss the Beveridge Report in Shaping the Post 1945 Welfare State

2200 words - 9 pages be a faster project with the houses of poorer quality. This saw the beginning of the state providing poor quality homes, a million miles away from the vision of Beven. They were poor in there construction and became known as an ambulance service for the least well off (Houghton, 2008: 31-39). The Keynesian Economic Policy was introduced to tackle idleness and aimed at bringing full employment to Britain. The 1945 government felt that it was

Explain How Two Foods Can Improve Your Health

619 words - 3 pages health by garlic is to resist a number of bacteria. Natural Health Remedies (2008) state that 1% of the potency of penicillin that in garlic can keep away from several bacteria. Besides, garlic does not develop an antibiotic system for bacteria (Natural Health Remedies 2008). In short, garlic can be used to improve health by treating acne, preventing cholesterol and resisting bacteria. Green tea is another food which enables health to improve in

Which Of The Two Major Approaches To Economic Policy (Keynesian Or Classical) Will Lead The Usa Out Of The Economic Crisis Faster?

933 words - 4 pages Keynesian approach. Keynes assumed that there can be two main approaches to dealing with economic recession: reduction of interest rates and government investment in infrastructure. If the state places a large order in some enterprises, it will result in employment of additional manpower for these firms. Those who were unemployed will receive wages and will be able to increase their spending on consumer goods, and, accordingly, will increase

Design Of Structures In Respect To Heat Efficiency

1930 words - 8 pages able to heat a structure without the use of specialized equipment such as a photovoltaic cell or other direct solar energy device.Many organizations in such countries as Australia and England are conducting nationwide heat energy efficiency ratings that can be used as references for engineers and architects. These ratings could inform a designer as to what designs work better and which do not. The program in Australia is titled the 'Nationwide House

Part A: What Factors Bring About Change In Modern Societies? Discuss With Reference To Thinkers Examined In Unit 2. • Part B: Might Change In Modern Polities Be Justified By The Social Contract?...

2272 words - 10 pages political entity. In Hobbes' theory there are only two options subjects can be within the boundary of commonwealth or outside of that boundary. When the sovereign abuse their power, the subjects can only go with this situation because it is better than the state of nature. The Hobbes account of social contract is quite radical. Hobbes gives no other option for the subjects to construct its own political entity. The transformation of the modern

Reforms to Improve Justice Delivery System

2967 words - 12 pages implementation of many such recommendations is still pending.   REFORMS TO IMPROVE JUSTICE DELIVERY SYSTEM We are a country of a billion people. The fundamental question is: How do we design and structure a legal system which can render justice to a billion people? The possibility of a justice-delivery mechanism in the Indian context and the impediments for dispensing justice in India is, thus, required to be examined. Legal reform is a

‘If a Business Wants to Maximise Profit, It Cannot Be Concerned with Corporate Social Responsibility’. Critically Discuss This Statement

1464 words - 6 pages MORE ON NEO-KEYNESIAN) By taking into consideration with these two perspectives, advantages and disadvantages of corporate social responsibility should be considered. Through Neoliberal perspective, it identifies CSR as a threat of success to countries, due to possibility of reducing competition and economic freedom. It is supported by Bryan Husted and José de Jesus Salazar as they argued to be ‘wiser for firms to act strategically that to be

Alternative Sources of Energy Can Be Easily Established. Discuss in Relation to Your Country Compared to One Other Country

1029 words - 5 pages ESSAY TITLE: Alternative sources of energy can be easily established. Discuss in relation to your country compared to one other country. NAME: XIAOYI WANG IRENE GROUP: BUSINESS 16 Alternative sources of energy can be easily established. Discuss in relation to your country compared to one other country. Alternative energy can be defined as a kind of energy which can be utilized well to replace fossil

Use Different Sociological Perspectives to Discuss Patterns and Trends of Health and Illness in Two Different Social Groups

1728 words - 7 pages present with health. When considering racial differences in society, the lifestyle choices of different individuals can be related to the culture they live in. For example, there are high rates of ‘rickets’ amongst the Asian community, due to the lack of vitamin D. This may be due to their diet or their clothing, which restricts the amount of sunlight which is absorbed by the skin. There is also a high rate of perinatal mortality in Asian mothers

Related Essays

How Successful Were The Reforms Of Post War Labour Government 1945 1951 In Creating A Welfare State?

1574 words - 7 pages How successful were the Liberal Reforms of 1906-1914 in meeting the needs of the British people? Before the turn of the twentieth century, the government and people of Britain commonly believed in the policy of laissez-faire – the policy of non-intervention in relation to social problems. Due to this, the majority of those in poverty received no help whatsoever. However as time passed, people’s attitudes were changed by the publishing of various

`the Price Mechanism Can Be Relied Upon To Provide Efficiency'. Discuss

1063 words - 5 pages `The price mechanism can be relied upon to provide efficiency'. Discuss. In order to discuss the above, it is necessary to provide not only a definition of the price mechanism, but also an explanation of its application in real-world microeconomics. John Sloman describes the price mechanism as ‘the system in a market whereby changes in price in response to changes in demand and supply have the same effect of making demand equal to supply

The Reason For Increase In Divorce In The Uk Can Be Explained By The Changes In The Law. Discuss This Statement

652 words - 3 pages of filing for a divorce. It also meant women were making their own money and no longer felt that they needed to stay with their husband to remain financially stable. Women began filing for divorces knowing that they could support themselves and possible children without being dependent on her husband which lead to a rise in divorce In 1971 came 'The divorce reform act'. This meant that people could file for divorce due to 'irretrievable

"Mere Wit May Amuse, But It Serves Better Purposes When It Also Conveys Feeling", Discuss With Respect To Two Or Three Poems By John Donne

743 words - 3 pages being achieved through physical love is ironic in the respect that two such contrasting ideas are so closely linked. Donne's clever conceits help to make his poems appealing whilst his feeling is expressed simultaneously. The idea of two coming together to form one is very important in Donne's view of love. When a couple find perfect love together they become all-sufficient to one another, forming a world of their own, which has no need of the