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  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: July 2010



Both austerity and post-industrialization challenge all the major social policy schemes of the continental welfare states. Whether it is in labor market and unemployment policy, health-care provision, family policy, child and elderly care, poverty alleviation, or old-age security, there are serious threats to the long-term financial viability, and – simultaneously – challenges stemming from newly emerging social needs. However, each social policy scheme is affected by the same structural developments in a very specific way, and policy makers must thus react in an equally specific way. In labor market policy, for instance, the challenge consists in easing the structural adjustment of job markets under the constraint of financial austerity (on recent labor market and unemployment policy developments, see, e.g., Esping-Andersen and Regini 2000; Rueda 2005; Clasen and Clegg 2006; Clegg 2007), whereas health policy makers struggle to find a middle ground between the technologically feasible and the economically rational in a context of demographic aging (on recent health policy developments, see, e.g., Wendt and Thompson 2004; Hassenteufel and Palier 2007). In a similar vein, family and care policy is caught amid contradictory developments: there has been an explosion of care needs for both the elderly and children; an increase in women seeking paid work outside the home; and increasing poverty rates, especially among single mothers (on recent family policy developments, see, e.g., Jenson and Sineau 2001; Dienel 2002; Leitner, Ostner, and Schratzenstaller 2004).

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