The Battle against Exclusion: Social Assistance in Australia, Finland, Sweden and the United Kingdom

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Abstract:



Institutions whose goal is to help those at the margins have been a feature of social life for centuries. Today, social assistance institutions have integration and encouragement as their goal. They seek to avoid exclusion and stigmatisation.Poverty can tear at the fabric of society. However, preventing hardship among those with no resources while reducing exclusion and marginalisation is no easy task. How can social assistance best balance these goals, minimising disincentives to paid employment? What can be done to promote independence and individual responsibility?This book examines the performance of social assistance policies in four countries with similar per capita incomes: Australia, Finland, Sweden and the United Kingdom. It confronts their -- very different -- social protection systems and sheds light on issues such as social insurance and social assistance, central and local social security systems, active and passive policies. The often complex interactions involved are analysed and lessons are drawn from the countries' varied experiences. Particular attention is paid to young people, the long-term unemployed, lone-parent families, immigrants and asylum seekers. Conclusions -- both country-based and thematic -- are presented with a particular emphasis on how barriers and disincentives to employment can be overcome: these are indispensable weapons in the battle against exclusion.

Page Count: 208 Figure Count: 16 Table Count: 35

Document Type: Review Article

Publication date: January 1, 1998

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