You are looking at 1 - 10 of 14 items for
- Author or Editor: Chiara Saraceno x
Throughout Europe income support for the poor has become highly controversial. It is often assumed to be not the answer to, but the cause of social exclusion, and is increasingly believed to give rise to welfare dependency.
This book contributes to a more complex understanding of welfare state regimes and welfare recipients in contemporary Europe. Describing social assistance ‘careers’ in different national and urban contexts, it documents the strong interplay between personal biographies and policy patterns - a particularly useful perspective which complements the more structural, top-down approach of much international work in social policy.
Social assistance dynamics in Europe is unique in comparing a range of northern and southern European countries (Sweden, Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Portugal); in its focus on the actual working of their policies: their set of actors; cultural background; implementation etc. and in its methodological approach, which combines longitudinal analysis with qualitative research.
Academics and students of welfare and poverty, policy makers and social policy evaluators in the public, private and non profit sectors will find this book invaluable.
In the third millennium, family policies have become the most dynamic part of welfare state policies in developed countries and the forerunners of welfare state development in developing countries. They remain, however, an important dimension of social policy diversification, among both developed and developing countries. Degree and patterns of overall welfare state development, labour market conditions, demographic characteristics, family and gender cultures, political legacies and political cultures – all these factors contribute to shaping which and how family issues are framed as policy-relevant issues. The author addresses some of the research challenges that lie ahead in family policy research, namely: (1) the conceptual and methodological challenges deriving from the enlargement of research, both national and comparative, across an increasingly diversified spectrum of countries; (2) the dual challenge of the diversification of family forms and of international mobility; (3) the interaction between the labour market and family policies and their impact on social class differences; (4) the differential impact of social policies across the social spectrum and diversified family forms; and (5) the multilevel making and governance of family policies and the impact on intra-country differences. According to the author, these challenges are also the consequence of the intersectional character of family policies.
In the German and Swedish cities of Bremen, Halle, Gothenburg and Helsingborg over 50% of social assistance recipients are young people under the age of 21. However, the same is true for only about one quarter of social assistance recipients in the French cities of Rennes and Saint Etienne, the Italian cities of Milan, Turin and Cosenza, the Spanish cities of Vitoria and Barcelona, and Lisbon and Porto in Portugal. In Barcelona and Lisbon, nearly half of social assistance recipients are aged over 40. At the same time, in the Swedish, German and French cities and also in Barcelona, the absolute or relative majority of recipients live in one person households, while in Lisbon, Vitoria, Milan, and to a lesser degree in Turin, the majority of recipients live in households that comprise three or more members. Childless households represent over two thirds of all households receiving social assistance in Bremen, Gothenburg, Helsingborg and Rennes, over half in Barcelona, Halle, Vitoria and Saint Etienne, but less than half in Lisbon, Milan and Turin. Whereas job loss is the main reason for entering social assistance in the German cities, and to a lesser degree in Barcelona, other causes (from marital disruption to sickness, disability, some kind of addiction, and the insufficiency of other sorts of welfare) are the main route into social assistance in Milan, Turin, Vitoria and Lisbon. As for the duration of social assistance recipiency, Helsingborg and Milan – the two cities with the fastest exit rate – show striking similarities, although the two programmes have contrasting features in terms of coverage, generosity and recipients’ obligations.
Long-term unemployment among adults, delays and constraints in entering the labour market among the young, impoverishment of women and children due to the gender division of labour, as well as growing marital instability and the weakening of father-child ties1, are all phenomena that challenge the traditional solutions offered by social assistance. In countries where income support measures in the form of a basic or minimum living allowance have been developed as a temporary stopgap for those who have lost the social security protection linked to their status as workers, changes in the labour market conditions and in life course patterns are transforming both the type of beneficiary and their experience. Together with the growing number of unemployed people who now have less opportunity of finding a new job due to age or lack of required skills, and the growing number of young people who have difficulty even entering the social security protected labour market, there is also a growing number of people who find themselves with little or no income or social security protection for reasons not directly linked to the labour market. Among these are unmarried, separated or divorced women with small children who invested in raising a family rather than in paid work, young people who have adopted self-destructive behaviour, families who are over-strained by the long illness of one of their members, and immigrants who encounter obstacles in their efforts at social integration and social mobility.
Income support may thus be received by populations who are dis- homogeneous not only with regard to their life course, needs and personal resources, but also with regard to the perception of their situation, as well as the strategies developed2.
Three experienced Italian sociologists explore the structural and cultural dimensions of poverty in their country. Comparing Italy’s regime with other European countries, they consider the interplay of conditions in the labour market, the family and welfare arrangements as causes of poverty.
This in-depth analysis explores how forced familialism, unbalanced gender arrangements, territorial cleavages and sluggish growth have rendered Italy vulnerable to financial crisis. As old risks of poverty have worsened, new risks have emerged and children, the working poor and migrants have become the ‘new poor’.
Combining theoretical and empirical tools, this is a topical fresh take on the understanding of poverty in Italy that is even more crucial considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This chapter develops the theoretical framework within which Italian poverty characteristics and drivers should be understood, in a European comparative perspective. Following Polanyi’s approach, it argues that poverty is the outcome of modes of regulation of social processes that, on one hand, shape the system of opportunities and disadvantages, and, on the other, expose specific social groups to the risk of poverty. These modes of regulation are historically rooted and involve economic processes, family and social forms of solidarities, gender arrangements and cultural norms and representations. Based on various indicators, the chapter delineates five types of poverty regimes within the EU, which differ both in levels and intensity of poverty and in the specific dimensions of vulnerability.
After having discussed some methodological problems one has to face when assessing and comparing poverty across different countries, this chapter offers an overview of how the 2008 financial crisis affected the different European countries and poverty regimes, thus setting the Italian case in a broad European comparative perspective. Based on empirical data and the most recent literature, it argues that differences in the incidence and patterns of distribution of the negative impact of the crisis do not depend only on the strength of the economy, but also on the existing system of social protection and on the policy choices made by governments in response to the crisis. Focusing on the four largest Mediterranean countries, which have been among the worst hit by the crisis, it shows that although Italy has comparatively been less affected at the economy level, it has been much slower in recovering.
This chapter traces the historical roots of the Italian poverty regime as it was shaped by a regionally uneven economic development and by a welfare state development that de facto ignored both the persistence of old and new form of poverty and the risks associated to single earner households with children. Poverty did decrease substantially in Italy with the post WWII recovery and the mass movement of population from rural to urban areas following the process of intense industrialization, particularly in the Northern regions. But its incidence remained comparatively high. Old forms persisted and new ones started to emerge, linked to the development of secondary, precarious labour markets in the informal economy. While the overall improvement in the level of living contributed to marginalize poverty in the policy agenda, the Italian welfare state developed not only following a male breadwinner model, but in a patchy and fragmentary way, leaving the most vulnerable largely unprotected. Neither the Christian Democratic Party nor the Communist Party - the two major parties until the early 1990s- had contrasting poverty in their agenda, although for different reasons.
Chapter 4 individuates the 1992 monetary crisis (devaluation of the Lira) as a turning point in the Italian economic development, starting the long period of sluggish growth, decreasing value of real wages, increasing both inequality and poverty. The 1990s were also the period when child poverty started to increase, and the conditions of the young to deteriorate, becoming, together with the North-/South divide, structural features of Italian poverty. During the same years, Italy started to become an immigration country, with migrants from developing countries mostly occupying the lowest rungs of the occupational stratification, thus being exposed to high risk of poverty. These characteristics were further heightened by the economic crisis and its long duration, which highlighted the weakness both of the Italian economy and of the Italian system of social protection. The increasing number of working poor, particularly in households with children, well exemplify this weakness.
This chapter focuses on three, partly overlapping, social groups that appear as not only the “losers of the crisis” but of the overall Italian model of social regulation: the working poor, children and migrants. The working poor and underage children were already over-represented among the poor before the 2008 crisis set in and were also the worst affected, while the third group, migrants, are a new entry because Italy became an immigration country only comparatively late. Together, they well represent the characteristics of the Italian poverty regime, its over-expectations with regard to family solidarity, the skewedness of social protection in favour of pensions with little attention for children and for work-family conciliating policies, a large and increasing presence of precarious jobs with a blurring of boundaries between the formal and informal economy. Furthermore, the analysis of these three groups allows to explore the experience and risk of poverty from different perspectives: the individual and the household level, the functioning of the labour market, the household gender division of labour, the functioning of welfare, the costs of migration.