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Implementing Activation Policies

An Analysis of Social and Labour Market Policy Reforms in Continental Europe with a Focus on Local Case Studies in France and Germany

Sebastian Künzel

Continental Europe’s welfare states have recently initiated a shift from passive policies towards goals of an activation of the unemployed. Their aim is to organise more individualised approaches and to provide targeted job placement, active labour market policy and social services. Analysing these reforms, this book illustrates that a successful implementation of activation policies is highly contingent on their local organisation. This finding is reinforced by a series of case studies in France and Germany revealing large differences in the local application of the reforms. Consequently, the question of reliable multilevel governance solutions becomes a key issue. In view of this challenge, the book compares different approaches practiced to govern activation policies in Continental Europe.
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1. Introduction

The structure of the book


1.  Introduction

Steadily increasing reliance of persons on meagre to moderate minimum income benefits in continental European countries like France and Germany (cf. Fig. 1 and Fig. 2) is atypical for these welfare state types. Both countries belong to the Bismarckian welfare state model which is normally characterised by generous coverage of status-protecting social insurance. Does the rise in the number of beneficiaries of typically residual minimum income schemes in both countries thus indicate a demise of the Bismarckian welfare state? According to widespread interpretations (Pierson 1995; Pierson 2001), the increasingly prominent role of so called last-resort financial safety nets fits into the picture of a retrenchment of the welfare state.

Fig. 1: Development of the number of minimum income benefit recipients in Germany (in Thousands; blue: total; orange: Germans; yellow: foreigners).

Source: Statistische Ämter des Bundes und der Länder 2008: 13. ← 1 | 2 →

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