Welfare of Relatives

Friends and relatives provides invaluable informal care in all European countries. But what support do theVelfaerden til paaroerende varierery get to balance care with work? Which recognition do they get in terms of financial and practical help? And what rights do they have independently of the person cared for to respite offers, advice, training, and to be included and heard in the formal care system?

Answers to such questions can be found in the ESPN 2016 report “Work-life balance measures for persons of working age with dependent relatives in Europe” which got renewed importance yesterday as the work-life balance is part and parcel of the European Commission proposal for a European Pillar of Social Rights. If in a hurry you may consult this op-ed for the Danish daily Politiken.

Towards an Anti-Social Europe?

At the same time as the EU revises the social rights of migrant workers, national governments contemplate reforming their national social security systems to lower their use by migrant workers. If the European Parliament and the EU countries does not agree on a system that is perceivedVi risikerer et asocial Europa as fair and just by national populations, then national governments may addres popular anxieties of unintended use of benefits – real or not – by reducing access and generosity, of, minimum income benefits thereby making Europe less social, click here for the analysis.

Do we treat the sick listed well economically?

Sick listed should have economic security and help to get back into work. After a major Sickness Benefit Reform in Denmark this piece examines whether it has contributed to a better system in an international perspective. It concludes that the reform has resulted in a better system with more people getting into work and less sick listed with benefits with sick benefit expenditures slightly below EU 28 and neighboring countries. Compared to other countries the Danish sick listed have bad employment protection but good social security and more and stronger return-to-work policies. For more please see the analysis in the daily Politiken.sick

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Poverty can effectively be reduced through social investments. Social investments refer to policies designed to strengthen people’s skills and capacities in order to enable them to participate fully in education, employment, and social life. These policies aim not only to improve the life of individuals but also the economic prospects of countries through more tax revenues from work and lower social and health expenditures. Based on insights from 20 EU research projects I argue for adopting a life course perspective on social investments to fight poverty and social exclusion in Europe. For details and recommendations check out this policy review for the European Commission.

Europe tries to get its youth back on track

The economic crisis has hit youth harder than any other group. The European Commission wants the EU Youth Guarantee to change this. But is that feasible?  With extra money and improved schemes the guarantee will help many more young people. Paradoxically, however, the guarantee face the biggest problems getting implemented in those countries where youth have the biggest needs for help and where the institutional conditions in are worst. Despite the relative success of the youth guarantee and its continuation there will still be pockets of youth unemployment and inactivity. Also tomorrow some of the important factors of success in life will be when and where you were born in Europe. For more see my op edtight-rope-300 in Politiken.

Social security cuts may undermine inclusive growth

Hand making sign isolated on whiteLower social security benefits undermine evidence based measures aimed at inclusive growth. Lower social security benefits are often ineffective against many claimant groups and harm children and their social mobility. In short the current Danish make work pay strategy can have unintended adverse effects that jeopardize inclusive growth and is  a move away from the Nordic welfare model. For more see my op ed in the daily newspaper Politiken.

How do we treat our weakest?

blobservletCountries can be judged by how they treat their weakest citizens. Following recent welfare reforms the question is how the champions of equality, the Nordic countries, including Denmark, do in an international perspective. The analysis finds that the Nordic countries today provides good quality services to help vulnerable citizens get better health, education and work. Economically the minimum income schemes have been reduced in all Nordic countries, excluding Finland. In Denmark the minimum incomes are better for people with attachment to the labour market and the country.
For more read this piece (in Danish only, sorry).

Minimum income schemes in the EU

“Minimum income (MI) schemes play a vital role in alleviating the worst impacts of poverty and social exclusion in many countries. However, in too many countries MI schemes still fall short of ensuring a decent life for the most vulnerable in society. The most common weaknesses include inadequate levels of benefit; failure to cover all those in need; low levels of take-up; a limited impact in reducing poverty. Despite some improvements, in many countries there is still not sufficient emphasis on developing an integrated and tailored approach to support those receiving benefits and to help them integrate into society and, as far as possible, into the labour market.” This is the main conclusion of a new major study by the European Social Policy Network.
tom pung ingen penge.jpeg In the European Social Policy Network (ESPN) we are 35 independent experts who have written the country reportsthat highlight and assess the contribution of minimum income schemes to both preventing and alleviating poverty and social exclusion, and fostering an active inclusion approach to promoting social investment.
These country reports and the related synthesis report prepared by the ESPN overall coordinators are now available from the ESPN web-page, see ESPN Thematic Report on minimum income schemes. For the Danish country report see Kvist 2016 Danish minimum income schemes.

Social investments over the life course

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Yesterday the discussion of how to modernize European welfare states took place in Paris. My two cents was on social investment seen in a life course perspective arguing that policies can help develop, strengthen, maintain and rehabilitate human’s functional capacities and thus better meet life’s events and transitions and its social and economic problems. Childcare and active labor market policies are chief social investment policies, but drawing on Danish experiences my examples concerned the unusual suspects of housing, minimum incomes, sickness benefits, disability pensions and long term care. After another five such workshops involving ministries, scholars, and NGO’s the organizers will decide whether and how to take such discussions out of the beautiful Jean Monnel Salle into the broader French polity and society. Bonne chance! For more on the event and initiative see France Strategie.