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Social security policy.

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Introduction

Social security policy is a major, convoluted issue in all societies. Millions of people are heavily reliant on social security as a means of support to achieve a basic standard of living. There is thought to be three main welfare regimes, in western society. These regimes are corporate-conservative, socio-economic and liberal. This essay aims to give a brief description of these regimes in action, in relation to the USA, France and Sweden, respectively. Then, go on to compare the regimes, in relation to social security. It will take in to account unemployment, pensions and family policy. Social security is basically the procedure of benefits and transfers in the form of financial assistance as income maintenance which is funded by taxation and/or insurance contributions. (Baldock et al, 1999) There have been three principle types of welfare regime. These are corporatist-conservative, socio-democratic and liberal. The corporate-conservative regime is usually based on individual's contributions, therefore very work-orientated. The socio-democratic regime is usually based on universal values. The liberal regime is usually residualist. This means that the welfare is seen more as a bag-up, only to provide for those who would not manage at all without it. (Esping-Anderson, 1990) France is an example of the corporatist-conservative regime in action. Social security is hinged on solidarity. In this context, it means mutual responsibility, shared risks and common action. It was first brought in to place by the introduction of a regime general for social and health security. This was then expanded. In the 1970's additional measures were introduced to include all 'excluded' people. The most significant measure was introduced in 1988. ...read more.

Middle

This is called general assistance. (www.law.cornell.edu/topics) It has been found that the population age profile of western societies is changing. We are now living in an increasingly ageing population. The age structure of the population comes from past birth rates, increasing mortality rates, increased longevity and migration trends. This inevitably means an increase in the amount of people who will be eligible for a pension. (Baldock et al, 1999) Therefore, welfare regimes have to account for it. France has a pay-as-you-go system. (www.news.bbc.co.uk) The pay-as-you-go system is basically that the pensions that are being paid out today are being funded by taxing the employed of today. This is in stark contrast to private pension scheme (those favoured in the USA) as these are based on paying pensions out of the contributions an individual made during their entire working life. (Baldock et al, 1999) It is believed that this is going to be unsustainable. This is due to the increasing longevity and the declining birth rates. This means that in the future there will be far fewer workers to pay for the multiplying amount of pensioners. (www.news.bbc.co.uk) This is now worrying the French Government. They are now beginning to take steps to remedy the situation. One example of this can be seen by looking at a bill approved by the French Government, in May of last year. They approved a bill that meant that the amount of time that all Government employees must work in order to get a full pension increases from 37 years and 6 months to 41 years and 9 months. ...read more.

Conclusion

Families with 1 or more children are provided with an ample amount off of income tax and people who earn a very low wage plus have children are given refundable income tax benefits. Unlike both France and Sweden, there are very few employees, who are given paid parental leave, when a child is born or is sick. However, since 1995, unpaid leave for both child birth and child illness has been mandatory. There are 5 states, which do provide income replacements, subject to certain conditions, for up to 52 weeks. Federal employees do benefit from 24 hours of paid leave a year, for child related activities. Some employers, in the USA, do offer subsidised childcare facilities for their staff. However, the majority of employers do not. Federal childcare funding was provided so that states could be flexible in designing inclusive, integrated childcare facilitates, to make it easier for unemployed or single parents to get back to work. (www.reformmonitor.org) To conclude, there are some major differences between each of the welfare regimes. The biggest differences come from looking at unemployment differences and family policy. The USA is probably the most diverse plus the have all had very different consequences. However, there are similarities between some of the aspects. This comes from pensions. All regimes are based on the pay-as-you-go regime, to a certain extent. However, they all have differing success. All in all, it would be hard to say for definite that any one of them would be superior but Sweden would be a definite contender. However, it is safe to say that welfare regimes in the future could benefit from utilising the most successful parts for the present regimes and learning for the unsuccessful parts. ...read more.

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