Making the Poor Work: Social Assistance and Activation in Sweden

Detta är en avhandling från School of Social Work

Sammanfattning: Management of poor relief and work demands have been controversial questions in social policy during the workhouse era of the nineteenth century as well as in current discussions on social assistance and activation of recipients. The first part contains a discussion on the concepts of poverty, marginalisation, and social exclusion, and continues with an overview of activation policies for recipients of social assistance. Social assistance in Sweden developed in the 1980s in the direction of an income guarantee for all citizens. During the 1990s, policies have changed towards activation and control. The growth of the recipient population is described. Occasional receipt of social assistance has been rather common and not limited to extremely disadvantaged groups. Long-term and permanent receipt of social assistance has increased considerably during the 1990s, often in combination with a marginal labour market position, and without eligibility for social insurance, which is strongly work-related. The main direction of the process is problems of entry to the labour market rather than exclusion of the already established. Results on scope, duration and patterns of social assistance are presented and analysed in relation to the labour market and immigration. The city of Malmö is described and analysed as an example of a development towards increasing labour market marginalisation and long-term receipt of social assistance, with special attention to the disadvantaged and segregated areas of the city. This development has to large extent been determined by external factors as global economic change and migration. Activation programs are often proposed as a solution to these problems. Evaluation methods and results from effect evaluations of such programs are discussed in the last part of the work. Results from an evaluation of activation programs in Malmö are presented. According to the available evidence, such programs have quite modest effects on work and income and structural change is necessary to reduce social exclusion.

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