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Bringing the Jobless into Work? An Introduction to Activation Policies

Chapter

The general trend towards activation has been one of the major issues in recent welfare and labour market reforms in Europe and the US. In many of these countries this issue has dominated the socio-economic and legal debate. Despite considerable variation across national models with respect to the scope and intensity of activation, it is evident that redefining the link between social protection and labour market policies on the one hand and employment on the other has been a common issue in labour market reforms.

At first sight, activation is a compellingly simple idea. For people of working age, doing something useful – especially working – is much better than sitting out time on a public benefit, however generous or meagre it may be. This is certainly desirable for better social cohesion, solidarity and the long-term viability of welfare states and public budgets. It is probably this straight-forward normative idea that is responsible for the widespread appeal and success of policy measures introduced under the label of activation.

From an economic point of view, the shift to activating labour market policies is often portrayed as a necessary response to high levels of structural unemployment. However, such changes are more than a mere technical adjustment of welfare programmes to a changing economic climate. They represent new ideas about the goals of public policy and the social rights of citizenship reflecting a departure from the ideas and goals of the post-war welfare state (Cox 1998).

Keywords

Labour Market Welfare State Activation Policy Unemployment Insurance International Labour Organisation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)BonnGermany
  2. 2.Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Foreign and International Social LawMünchenGermany
  3. 3.Department of International Comparison and European IntegrationInstitute of Employment Research (IAB)NurembergGermany
  4. 4.The University of FuldaGermany

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