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Vol. 16 The Journal of Social Policy and Labor Studies (Shakai-seisaku Gakkai shi)


HOME > PUBLICATIONS > Early Journals > The Journal of Social Policy and Labor Studies (Shakai-seisaku Gakkai shi) (1999-2007)

International Trends in Social Policy on Welfare and Work


Since the 1980s, welfare-to-work or “workfare” policy has played a key role in the reform of welfare regimes in advanced states regardless of the type of welfare regime.

In the course of its introduction to other countries, workfare, a term derived from the U.S. experience, has evolved to become an umbrella term covering a wide range of policy positions, from hard workfare to soft workfare.

The aims of this paper are two.  First, we investigate the essential arguments for and key events leading to the implementation of welfare-to-work policy in advanced nations, including Japan. Of particular concern is the identification of what takes place after a change in social policy focus from welfare to work.

Two types of policy are recognized. The first is a type of ex-post compensatory policy with refundable tax credits for low-income people; this type is typically seen in Anglo-Saxon nations.  Use of this policy means that workfare must be accompanied by or supplemented with a “making work pay” policy.

The second type is ex-ante regulatory, that is, incorporating statutory minimum wage regulations; this is the policy advocated by ILO/ISSA. This policy is seen in employment protection legislation, but given the economic deregulation of the 1980s and 1990s, it was probably implemented defensively. Even so, it has the advantage of preventing the spread of low-paying jobs.

The second aim is to examine the implications for Japan of welfare-to-work policy developed in the United States and Europe. In examining whether this policy is relevant to Japan, we conclude that it is not. In Japan, the labor market participation rate of able-bodied single mothers is extraordinarily high and their dependency on welfare is lower than in other nations, especially Anglo-Saxon nations. But the problem of the working poor, who do not receive social assistance benefits, should be taken seriously, as in other OECD nations. A broad policy mix ranging from minimum wage legislation to in-work benefits (for example, refundable tax credits) are worthy of consideration.



Welfare and Workfare in Social Policies for the Poor

                                                          Masami IWATA

The focus of social welfare has recently shifted from welfare to workfare, and the term “independence” has become common in the social welfare field. More particularly, welfare policies for poor working people emphasized the achievement of independence through job programs.

Job programs are not new to the social welfare field. Various methods are used to integrate job programs with welfare policies. This paper categorized adoption of job programs in welfare policies into three models:  the substitution model, the addition model and the exclusion model.  In the substitution model, job programs are seen as substitution to income supports and/or welfare services, while the addition model sees job programs as addition to income supports and /or welfare service as needed.  The exclusion model assumes un-employability, thus, according to the model, a job program is not applied to these incapable to work, i.e. the elderly and the disabled, but income supports or social services are provided to them instead.

In Japan before WW2, the Kyugo-ho (Poor Relief Law enforced between 1932 and 1946) was the typical implementation of the exclusion model. The Seikatuhogo-ho (Daily Life Security Law, 1950) first focused on balance between job programs and welfare benefits. The law became to exclude those capable to work and to target mainly the elderly and disabled, thus, job programs under the law hardly functioned.  Since the late 1990s, some local governments have developed job programs for homeless people under the pretext of “independent living support”. The national government enshrined these programs into 10-year provisional act, the Homeless Act based on efforts of local governments. The Homeless Act is to be applied before a person receives social assistance and is intended to first attempt to include the person in society through paid work. This program demonstrates substitution to the conventional model.

Experiences in Tokyo suggest a number of difficulties in homeless policies associated with job programs (the substitute model). First, there is a limitation in the public sector to promote jobs as substitution of welfare. It should be noted that the job programs helped the homeless to return to the labor market by bridging employment with welfare. However, the public institutions can only encourage expansion of employment, but they can not expand employment itself. Second, the programs rates people according to their employability, and as a result, some people are excluded from the programs.  Third, people excluded from the programs are stigmatized as people who have failed to become independent, and as a result of this stigmatization they may be undervalued. The contradictions of these programs led to the establishment of a new program in Tokyo known as “inclusion through housing”.  Yet this program also has its limitations ; its services only include introduction of temporary jobs but exclude income supports.

In 2005, new job programs were introduced to the Seikatsuhogo-ho and the child-care allowance to single-mother households. Unlike the job programs for the homeless, the introduction can be seen as the additional model ( addition to income supports). Although this paper is not in the position to judge whether the additional model is successful, it should be noted that it is important to give job programs to cover all poor working people without reducing income supports to them.



School-to-Work Transition and Social Welfare


The transition from school to work is a process of evolving from dependence as a student to economic independence from the parents’ household. It can be consider one of most important events of a young person’s journey to adulthood.

Until recently, Japan was widely considered to have an effective system for the smooth entry into the workplace of recent graduates. Schools systematically supported students’ job-hunting activities. Corporations evaluated the long-term potential of students and developed their skills in a range of areas after employing them.

Since the 1990s, however, young people have experienced much more difficulty obtaining stable jobs. In response, the Japanese government began to respond clearer to say what the government actually did to the problem of youth unemployment in 2003.

The first aim of this paper is to examine Japan’s youth employment policy over the course of the school to work transition.  The second is to consider future areas of research comparison Japan’s efforts with youth policy in Britain.

The following two findings were elucidated from statistical analysis:

The percentage of young people able to transition to work under the new graduate employment system has fallen to 60 percent in case of the age cohort who was born in 1981-82.

People with low levels of educations, including school leavers, tend to become atypical employees when they are able to get jobs. They also become unemployed easily or do not participate in the labor market.

Analysis of the Japanese government’s youth policy uncovered the following two points:

Young people’s occupational consciousness, the demands of a changing labor market, and the unchanged process of transitioning from school to work are perceived as problems.

The government’s youth policy requires cross-ministry cooperation in light of the need for a multi-dimensional approach.

This paper offers these recommendations:

The first is to develop a system that consistently supports students with their efforts to develop a stable career starting while they are still in school.

The second is to develop new paths to acquiring occupational skills and employability in addition to the traditional system of hiring new graduates.

The third is to more closely relate employment policies to welfare policies. By this we mean to encourage policies that promote the social participation of people with low employability and that make higher education easier to obtain regardless of parental income levels.



Work, Welfare, and Citizenship

Tetsuki TAMURA

Since the 1990s, there has been a discernable trend toward welfare reform in advanced democracies despite the difficulties associated with welfare retrenchment.

Together with this movement toward welfare reform has emerged much debate on the concept of citizenship.

This paper has two aims. First, I seek to classify some of the principles of contemporary welfare reform from the perspective of citizenship rights and obligations. There are at least two conceptions of citizenship :the right-centered conception and the obligation-centered conception. By adding a left-right nexus to this right-obligation nexus, I create four conceptions of citizenship as they relate to welfare reform. These are (1) the left-libertarian conception of citizenship (basic income), (2) the right- libertarian conception (negative income tax), (3) the right-communitarian conception (workfare) , and (4) the left-communitarian conception (activation). Recent citizenship debates have exhibited a definite tendency to emphasize obligations rather than rights, especially the obligation to work. For this reason workfare and activation are more popular ideas for reform than basic income and negative income tax. There is an important difference between workfare and activation. However, it seems certain that the principles which emphasize work as an obligation have had a great influence on recent citizenship debates.

My second aim is to explain why we should not regard the work obligation as the most important aspect of citizenship obligations. In doing so, I make two points.

First, if we acknowledge that the significance of citizenship is in obligation, we should take into account not only work but also other obligations and activities. Referring to T. Fitzpatrick’s concept of diverse reciprocity, I argue for recognizing the significance of both unpaid care work and active political citizenship. In recent feminist debates on citizenship, unpaid care work has come to be seen as one of the most important components of citizenship. By active political citizenship, I mean the political citizenship that goes beyond suffrage and is located in collective action. Some radical democrats such as J. Habermas and G. Delanty emphasize such active political citizenship.

Today we cannot assume the boundaries of citizenship as given. The ability to define citizenship seems to have become increasingly important, and this will be possible only through political citizenship.

Second, if it is the case that citizenship is more that just the work obligation, we must also think about the new principles and institutions necessary both for the democratization of welfare and for welfare that encourages diverse reciprocity. Regarding the former, I focus on ‘deliberative welfare’ (Fitzpatrick), and for the letter, I refer to public policy, such as parental leave for men, and basic income, which has the potential to increase the time spent engaging in social and political activities outside to work.



Reconstructing the Social Contract:  Social Exclusion and the Reformation of the Welfare State in France


The purpose of this paper is to examine from a historical perspective the debates on “social exclusion” taking part in France, focusing on the transformation of the concepts of “citizenship” and “social contract”.  The French Revolution gave birth to the modern social contract theory, through which the political order is legitimated by the mutual consent of all who possess natural rights. This theory underwent a profound transformation at the beginning of the twentieth century. According to theorists such as Leon Bourgeois, leader of the Social Republican Party, and Emile Durkheim, a leading social scientist during the Third Republic, a social contract can only be considered a contract between the society and an individual within the society. Each individual acquires social rights in return for fulfilling certain social obligations, such as obtaining an education, working, and taking care of their health. This reworked conception of the social contract provided the philosophical foundation for the French welfare state after World War II.  Since the late 1970s, the widespread phenomenon of social exclusion has raised doubts about the legitimacy of the welfare state. Two solutions have been proposed.  The first is the dualization of the social security system, which separates the problem of the legitimacy of the social security system from the exceptional treatment of those who are marginalized. The second is the reestablishment of the social contract by empowering those who are excluded by creating voluntary agreements involving re-defined social rights and obligations.



Social Development Policy in the Philippines: Focusing on Poverty Alleviation Programs


This paper examines the characteristics of social development policy in the Philippines.  While Asian NIEs are developing social insurance system, the Philippines continues to experience widespread poverty. As a result, poverty reduction is one of that country’s most highly prioritized social policy issues.

High rates of unemployment and underemployment show the need for effective programs to generate employment and enhance employability. In the Philippines, income generating programs including skills training micro-finance programs have been a common strategy, but now more programs to support people working in formal sectors are being put forward under social safety net policies recommended by international agencies.

The framework of the current poverty reduction policy was developed as the Social Reform Agenda (SRA) by the Ramos administration. It covers vast areas of social development, including rural development, labor protection, housing, social service delivery and facilitation of people’s participation in governance.  Many of the programs in the SRA involve working with companies and NGOs on implementation and community organization strategy in order to develop mutual aid systems and strengthen resource management in the community.

Based on the SRA, the Arroyo administration has been implementing affirmative action policies for the most disadvantaged segments of the population through KALAHI-CIDSS. This project delivers funds to the most needy communities in the poorest municipalities and at the same time works to strengthen the capabilities of local governments. It expects local governments to mobilize funds and resources for projects to reduce the burden on the national government. It also aims to accelerate decentralization.

Reviewing the progress of social development policy in the Philippines, it can be characterized by the following four features:  1) capability building of local government’s ability to manage, 2) resource mobilization, 3) expectations for self-help and mutual assistance in communities, and 4) intervention by international agencies. From these characteristics, it can be concluded that the Philippines has not changed its principle, that of directing development, and continues to develop a welfare society supported by a variety of agencies. Pluralism is common in the experience of Europe’s post-welfare states. However, the major difference is that the Philippines has never had the “big government” essential for managing a welfare state. It is worth observing how the Philippines will combat poverty with its development-oriented strategy.



Part-time Society The Netherlands: Wage Differentials and Employment Choices among Married People


The proportion of part-time employment in total employment has increased considerably in the Netherlands since the 1980s. Today, it is by far large than in any other OECD country, and one therefore could call the Netherlands a “part-time society”. When considering the position of Japanese part-time workers, typically with low wages and low status, one could be tempted to view the part-time society as accompanied by a number of negative features. The review of the Netherlands’ “part-time society” in this paper, however, presents a different picture.

The Equal Treatment Act (Full-time and Part-time Workers) of 1996 prohibits discrimination against part-time workers in the Netherlands. The Working Hours Adjustment Act of 2000 gives employees and civil servants the right to increase or reduce their working hours regardless of their reasons for wishing to do so. The Dutch legal framework provides the most advanced and comprehensive treatment of part-time employment among the industrialized nations.

Even if a generous legal framework is provided, however, it is possible that part-time employment may turn into an inferior work arrangement. This paper therefore examines the characteristics of Dutch part-time employment.

We found the following. Wage differentials between part-time and full-time workers in the Netherlands are very small compared to those in Japan and other advanced countries. Dutch part-time work is found in many types of occupations and industries rather than being concentrated in low-skilled jobs. As a result, the proportion of so-called “involuntary part-time”, i.e. workers who are working part-time because they are unable to obtain full-time work, is the lowest in the EU-15 countries. Moreover, according to our empirical analyses of Dutch household panel data, OSA 1998, not only do married women, young people and old people work part-time, but also prime-age married men may work part-time when they have young children and/or the income of their spouse is high.

In conclusion, the Netherlands faces the challenge of building a “part-time society” in which individuals and couples are able to balance work and family life by adjusting their working hours to their personal and/or family needs without penalty from the market. Empirical analyses show that the Netherlands is gradually meeting this challenge.



The Korean Developmental Welfare Regime:  In Search of a New Regime Type in East Asia

Moo- Kwon CHUNG

This paper explains several distinctive features of the Korean welfare regime and analyzes its development from the perspective of “varieties of capitalism”(VoC), which can be used to illuminate the economy-politics-welfare nexus in the developmental process of a welfare regime.  In doing so, this paper attempts to establish a place for theoretical and empirical debate on the possibility of constructing a new type of welfare regime in the East Asian context, one that distinguishes its causalities and functions in the economy, society, and politics from those of advanced western welfare states. As part of this analysis, this paper i) critically evaluates previous analyses? of the East Asian welfare regime, ii) explores an analystical framework for a new type of East Asian welfare regime from the perspective of VoC, iii) examines the formation of the Korean developmental welfare regime over the course of the country’s industrialization and evaluates continuities and changes in the welfare reforms of the Kim Dae Jung government following the financial crisis, and iv) sets out new research directions for comparative implications in the East Asian context.



Social Transformation and the Development of Welfare Pluralism in Reform China:  An Assessment of China’s Welfare Regime

Yuegen XIONG

China has experienced unprecedented social change since economic reform began in the 1980s.  This change has also seen the restructuring of China’s social welfare and social security system, which was rooted in the Soviet model.  This paper begins with a description of China’s social transformation, its resulting social problems, and its impact on social policy.  It then examines the development of welfare pluralism in the context of a market economy. This paper argues that contemporary social welfare and social policy reform in China can be considered the outcome of the combination of pragmatic economic approaches and frozen political institutions dominated by the party-state.  Furthermore, compared to other Asian countries, China’s welfare regime should neither be oversimplified as a developmental welfare model or economic development-centered welfare model, nor simply summarized as an Asian Confucian welfare model.  The formation and transformation of the Chinese social welfare system is closely related to its traditional culture, unique political institutions, evolving approaches to economic development and changing social fabric. The paper concludes that there is still room for discussion on China’s welfare regime through empirical exploration and theoretical elaboration in future.



Employee Health Care Benefit Programs in the Era of Managed Care:  Purchasing Strategies Used by U.S. Companies


Since the 1980s, numerous large U.S. companies have restructured their employee health care benefit programs.  This paper examines strategies used by these companies inreforming health care benefit programs in the context of managed care.

Since the late 1980s, the cost of employee, retiree and dependents heath care benefits has undergone double-digit increases.  To control these costs, employers have not only introduced managed care plans, but have also implemented health insurance purchasing strategies that pass higher costs on to their employees.

Many large U.S. employers have begun applying the principle of managed competition to their health care benefit purchases.  This strategy is called “value-based purchasing”.  Unlike the traditional purchasing of health benefits, in which an employer’s Human Resources department managed the employees’ health care benefits programs, the new value-based purchasing systems are managed by specialized  health benefits departments.  Some companies have established their own managed care companies or health provider groups.  Many have converted fully insured health plans into self-insured health plans. These actions suggest that large companies are working to cope on their own with the cost of health benefits.  Large companies also rely on competitive bidding to negotiate health insurance premiums and benefits packages to their advantage.  Most of the Fortune 500 companies use bidding in their health care benefits purchasing.

To implement value-based purchasing strategies, many large U.S. companies have formed healthcare coalitions. A number of coalitions encourage their members to ask plans for information on access, quality, member satisfaction, and plan stability.  Many companies have also established purchasing alliances that negotiate health care benefits on behalf of member companies, achieving lower premiums as a result of their purchasing power.

These strategies suggest that large companies actively seek to control the cost and quality of their employee and retiree health care benefits, and these efforts influence U.S. private health insurance markets.  This paper review U.S. managed health care from the perspective of these companies.



Empirical Analysis of Relative Deprivation in Japan using Japanese Microdata


This study is one of the first ever to attempt to measure the extent of relative deprivation in Japan.  Its aim is to establish a relative deprivation scale, closely following the methods developed by Townsend (1979) and others and taking into account differences between the cultures of the U.K. and Japan.  Then, the study analyzes the relationship between relative deprivation and income poverty, and individual and household characteristics. The study uses two datasets from two nationally conducted surveys.  One identified socially perceived necessities, as developed by Mack and Lansley (1985).  The other established a relative deprivation scale using the necessities that were identified by the former.

Applying the relative deprivation scale, this study revealed three major findings.  First, under a certain threshold household income, the relative deprivation scale increases dramatically, as is the case in the United Kingdom and other countries.  This threshold is around 4 to 5 million yen per year.  Second, those whose lifestyle deviates from the social norm experience a higher risk of relative deprivation.  In particular, single people in their 30s to 50s, people with members of their household who are ill, and single mothers exhibited high levels of relative deprivation.  Third, young people are found to be at high risk of relative deprivation.  The deprivation scale is highest for those in their 20s, relatively low for those in their 30s to 60s, and rises again for those in their 70s. Comparing elderly people (greater than 60 years old) with young people (20 to 60 years old), both the prevalence and depth of deprivation was higher for the young, even for those in the same income range.

It is too early to draw conclusions for public assistance or other social security systems from the results of this study.  However, this study is an important first step in extending conventional poverty research which use only income or consumption data, toward understanding the complexity of poverty.