The Welfare State and Life Transitions

The Welfare State and Life Transitions

A European Perspective

Edited by Dominique Anxo, Gerhard Bosch and Jill Rubery

This timely book reveals that new life courses are found to require more, and not less welfare support, but only Sweden has developed an active life course approach and only three more could be considered supportive, in at least some life stages. For the remainder, policies were at best limited or, in Italy’s case, passive. The contributors reveal that the neglect of changing needs is leading to greater reliance on the family and the labour market, just as these support structures are becoming more unpredictable and more unequal. They argue that alongside these new class inequalities, new forms of inter-generational inequality are also emerging, particularly in pension provision.

Chapter 1: Shaping the Life Course: A European Perspective

Dominique Anxo, Gerhard Bosch and Jill Rubery

Subjects: economics and finance, welfare economics, politics and public policy, public policy, social policy and sociology, comparative social policy, welfare states


Dominique Anxo, Gerhard Bosch and Jill Rubery This book investigates the changing patterns and levels of social welfare systems through the lens of key life stage transitions. This provides an insight into the adequacy of welfare systems’ response to the changing needs for support at these critical stages of life that shape future life course prospects. The focus on key life stages has three purposes. First it provides a lens through which to analyse a range of different dimensions of social welfare systems. It is at key life stages that social welfare systems are particularly needed to provide support in addition to or instead of employment or the family. These include the key life stages of preparing for and entering work, setting up independent households, surviving interruptions to work in prime age, whether for parenthood, sickness or unemployment, and withdrawing from work into retirement. The support systems in place at these stages have major impacts in empowering or preventing citizens from fulfilling their potential and their aspirations. These support mechanisms are critical for issues of equity and social inclusion. A focus on key life stages also facilitates an evaluation of how social welfare systems vary in the effectiveness of their support for different groups, defined, for example, by class, gender, age and generation. Second, the key life stage approach can help identify the impact of potentially conflicting pressures for change. These conflicts arise from the short-term pressures to reduce costs or to minimise open unemployment for political reasons, both of...

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