Handbook of European Social Policy
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Handbook of European Social Policy

Edited by Patricia Kennett and Noemi Lendvai-Bainton

This Handbook will comprise of 29 original pieces from key contributors to the field of European social policy. It is intended to capture the ‘state of the art’ in European social policy and to generate and contribute to debates on the the future of European social policy in the 21st Century. It will be a comprehensive and authoritative resource for research and teaching covering themes and policy areas including social exclusion, pensions, education, children and family, as well as mobility and migration, multiculturalism, and climate change.
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Chapter 12: Adjusting social welfare and social policy in Central and Eastern Europe: growth, crisis and recession

Borbála Kovács, Abel Polese and Jeremy Morris

Abstract

This chapter discusses the politics of welfare state adaptation in two post-socialist welfare states, notably Hungary, representing the so-called post-communist European welfare state type, and Romania as a representative of the developing welfare state type, using Fenger’s welfare state typology. The discussion focuses on the past ten years of social policy adaptation in the area of old age pensions, social insurance, labour market and family policies and highlights the pervasiveness of an exclusionary welfare politics directed at the most disadvantaged in society. Building on the analysis of programme-level adjustments and reforms during the 2004–13 period, the argument put forward is that post-socialist welfare state retrenchment is qualitatively different from retrenchment cum residualization and convergence on the liberal welfare state model because the Bismarckian features of these welfare states continue to ensure reliable social welfare for labour market insiders, but by comparison very meagre benefits and services for the most vulnerable in society. Consequently, post-socialist welfare states serve best not their most vulnerable clients, as in liberal regimes, but the new middle classes, constituting dual welfare regimes comprising what we term a ‘formal insecurity’ system for the most disadvantaged and an encompassing system for the middle classes.

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