European welfare renewal in ageing societies

Saturday, 4 July 2015: 10:15 AM-11:45 AM
CLM.7.03 (Clement House)
Barbara Barabaschi, Catholic University, Department of Economic and Social Sciences, Piacenza, Italy
The paper presents results of a three years research on welfare reforms in some European countries. These latter representing the different regimes defined by Esping-Andersen, in particular: Finland (socio-democratic); United kingdom (liberal); France (conservative); Italy (familial); and also Poland (in transition). Three main policy areas have been analyzed: labour, pensions and lifelong learning. Starting from the demographic dynamics in progress and in anticipation on the labour market, the paper discusses recent trends in the different kind of policies, defined on the basis of activation paradigm. Central question is if the State could afford the costs for a growing older population. Indeed, demographic processes characterized by an increasing old-age dependency and a fall of birth rate, along with the progressive worsening of public finance and the increased risk of exclusion from labour market for everyone (due to the global recession), stimulate a more wide discussion on the need of mutual relations between co-existing generations, undertaking the mere problem of efficiency in resources redistribution. Focusing on labour issues, one of the most relevant challenges for governments is how to promote an all-inclusive labour market which is sustainable for all social groups represented therein, without discrimination due to age. The paper focuses on active ageing policies aiming to understand how the concept of activation has been traduced into policy guidelines, if it requires some linkages between the concept of citizenship and that of labour market participation and, eventually, if some specific measure has been conceived to improve the quality of labour in workplaces from an organizational point of view (part-time contract, tutorial projects,…). The role given to training as a support to people employability and activation is particularly studied. Research methodology is both qualitative (case studies) and quantitative (data-set on national expenses for every policy area analyzed in a comparative way). Results, critically analyzed on the basis of a sociological (but also economic and political) literature on welfare, have allowed: to reclassify principles guiding policies, with special attention to intergenerational equity; to identify a certain incoherence between aims declared in reform processes and measures conceived to translate them in practice, especially with reference to the role of training and, more in general with the perspective of social investment. Moreover, it seems that convergence processes of the different welfare regimes to a unique European Social model is not so probable, at least in the short run. Final reflections concern the role of the State in each welfare regime analyzed.