A European Perspective
Edited by Dominique Anxo, Gerhard Bosch and Jill Rubery
Chapter 1: Shaping the Life Course: A European Perspective
1. Shaping the life course: a European perspective 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...
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