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Mens en maatschappij



Expanding welfare in an age of austerity

Anthony Kevins

In recent decades, continental Europe has seen the emergence of an increasing divide between workers who have well-protected, well-paying jobs, and those who have lower-quality 'non-standard' employment or no job at all. The result is restricted access to contributory programmes, and where social assistance is patchy or nonexistent, a minimal safety net for atypical workers is often missing. Faced with this challenge, governments that are unwilling or unable to increase spending have three options: extend coverage and retrench the 'good' benefits given to insiders; maintain the benefits of the relatively well-off at the expense of growing numbers of outsiders; or resist reform altogether and do nothing. This book examines why different paths are pursued, arguing that certain typically Southern European characteristics - such as clientelism, the centrality of the family, and a large informal economy - condition the attention coverage gaps receive from both the public and political parties.

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