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 2: The UK Welfare State: More than Residual but Still Insufficient

Jill Rubery

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


Jill Rubery Analysing the UK’s social model through the lens of the support it provides for key life course transitions has a number of advantages. First, it illuminates the strengths and weaknesses of welfare systems that may not be revealed when welfare regimes are classified as a whole (EspingAndersen 1990). For example, the UK is often classified along with the US as a residual welfare model, which may not adequately capture the characteristics of the UK welfare system.1 Second, the approach reveals the interactions between three key elements of the UK model, as commonly classified – its residual welfare model, its flexible labour market and its weak family system. Finally, by focusing on the changing mix and levels of support at these life stages, the potential impact of current and planned changes by gender, class and generation may be identified. As this is prospective as much as current or retrospective, the analysis will be more indicative than detailed and quantified. TRANSITION FROM SCHOOL LEAVING TO HIGHER EDUCATION OR FIRST EMPLOYMENT Traditionally the UK school-to-work model split into direct entry into employment for the majority and entry into an elite higher education system for a minority. The move to a more mass higher education system since the early 1990s, with a target for 50 per cent of the cohort to attend higher education, marked a major change in this model. Change for those young people still not entering higher education has been less significant as training opportunities in the workplace remain limited...

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