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Following the inception of the economic adjustment programmes in the Eurozone, the EU has received much criticism for their handling of the social dimension of the crisis through their involvement in the Troika of European Commission, European Central Bank, and International Monetary Fund. One manifestation of this neglect of the social dimension can be found in the levels of economic inequality, particularly income inequality, in the countries that were part of the Troika programmes. Whilst the literature so far suggests that phases of fiscal consolidation correlate with increases in inequality levels, this chapter finds that this was not the case in the programme countries. The chapter undertakes a comparative case study between the Greek and Portuguese programmes in order to analyse the different effects of an expenditure-based programme with a revenue-based programme. It finds that relative inequality of disposable household incomes has stagnated rather than increased in most years throughout both programmes, with only minor upward fluctuations. In addition, a comparison with data on market income inequality in the same period shows that the redistributive efforts of the two countries have in fact increased, alleviating some of the recession-induced increases in market income inequality. Furthermore, simulating the distributive effects of a baseline scenario with unchanged tax-benefit policies from the year prior to the programme inception to its conclusion shows that in both cases, the reforms compressed the income distribution relative to the baseline scenario. In assessing the distributive effects of the fiscal consolidation measures, this chapter combines the use of real data (EU-SILC) and simulated data (based on tax-benefit microsimulation tool EUROMOD). Additionally, the chapter analyses the exact composition and compliance with the programmes. The combination of these approaches allows the conclusions that (1) the fiscal consolidation measures in the economic adjustment programmes had an inequality-reducing effect, which at times was sufficiently large to offset the inequality-increasing effects of the recessions in the programme countries, and that (2) this effect was larger when the Troika curtailed the discretion left to national governments in the development of suitable policy measures, and followed an approach of micro-management and close monitoring.
this chapter explores the medium through which the Nigerian population addressed and contested the series of rules, restrictions, and regulations imposed by the British to address the crisis generated by the war. In this context, the letters and petitions Nigerians wrote provided opportunities to locate African voices, as they confronted the new political and economic system introduced during the war. This chapter reveals that, although support for the war cut across class lines, most of the upper class and political elite were less concerned with the issues of daily survival, such as food insecurity and matters of daily subsistence, that lay at the root of these petitions. It concludes that the richness of these petitions allows for a better understanding of the impacts of the war on rural families and urban communities and situates the civilian experience within the larger context of the war and colonial society while creating a space for petitioners to participate in the larger discourse. It argues that Nigerian petitions reveal how local economic conditions and production systems linked a broad range of people, classes, and spatial categories and allowed them to move into the realm of public discourses on war, colonialism, and policy.
Austerity is frequently associated with crisis-enabled spending cuts. What happens when the crisis is over? This article’s original contribution lies in its in-depth exploration of one mechanism that help explain austerity’s endurance post-crisis, when state elites face increased popular resistance and pressure to reinstate social spending. This mechanism calls attention to the role of economists in Central Budgeting Offices as agents of technocratization and de-politicization within social policy domains. These economists may institute an austere spending mode by changing social spending’s norms and instruments. To demonstrate economists’ role in mediating macroeconomic fiscal goals and social policy design over time, the article examines the development of child welfare policy in Israel before, during and in the aftermath of economic crisis. In this case, austerity attained hegemony when economists were able to delegitimize and shelve an ‘irresponsible’ social spending proposal – and in response to post-crisis demands for compensation – introduce an austere policy instrument to cap social spending during a period of social policy expansion. This analysis suggests that scholars regard relations between austerity and social spending as dialectical.
Chapter 6 examines severe and protracted economic contractions following the Great Recession of 2008–09 in two countries on the European periphery: Latvia and Greece. It documents the evolution of main macroeconomic aggregates and social indicators in these two countries before, during, and after the 2008–09 crisis. The chapter also critically examines the role played by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other European institutions in the design and implementation of austerity in these economies, and draws lessons for other nations from these two experiences. The chapter also discusses the futility of democratic consultation (referendums) in Greece for the amelioration of conditionality and austerity.
This chapter focuses on the rise and fall of growth and the incidence of recessions in centrally planned socialist regimes in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and the former Soviet Union. It studies the period of rapid growth and socialist industrialization in the 1950s and 1960s, the socialist stagnation of the 1970s, and the terminal decade of the 1980s. It discusses the rapid accumulation of foreign debt in convertible currencies in some socialist countries as an attempt to revert symptoms of stagnation and the effect of the debt crises of the early 1980s, with responses ranging from full repayment under extreme self-imposed austerity (in Romania) and attempted rescheduling in other countries. It examines the causes for deep contractions in several CEE countries, Russia, and Ukraine in the early 1990s and the impact of the crisis of 2008–09.
Chapter 5 examines what subverts trust in elites in the European Union, which reached unpreceded lows after the last economic crisis, and finds a strong link between trust and perceived public integrity. European mechanisms to enhance integrity are poor and hypocrisy is high, even in the traditionally best-governed part of the continent. Two long-time member states, Greece and Italy, are the best examples of the limitations of European influence. This chapter traces the indicators of change and stagnation in both countries and explains why Europeanization has not made the Italian South more like the North or Greece more like Bavaria.
This article investigates whether governing parties strategically time austerity policies to help them win re-election. It contributes to existing research by focusing directly on government policy output, analyzing over 1,200 welfare and taxation austerity measures in thirteen Western European countries over twenty years. In line with previous research, the authors find that governments become less likely to introduce austerity measures as elections approach. The study introduces original hypotheses about which governments have the ability and opportunity to strategically time policy decisions. The authors suggest that minimal winning cabinets with leadership change (new prime ministers) face less complex bargaining environments and can credibly shift responsibility for austerity measures to the preceding government. The empirical analyses show that these governments are most likely to strategically time austerity policies.
Throughout the socialist experiment between 1974 and 1992, the Mozambique Liberation Front (Frelimo) ran a network of internment camps officially known as reeducation centers. Established in remote rural sites to mentally decolonize wayward members of urban society and putative enemies of the socialist revolution, the camps became a dumping ground for unwanted citizens accused of all kinds of wrongdoing. Although the Frelimo leaders envisioned a pedagogical institution that would undo the damage of colonialism by transforming reeducatees into new social beings, the gap between the idea of rehabilitation and the reality of detention was abysmally wide. Austerity – the order of the day throughout the fifteen years of socialist experiment in Mozambique – conditioned and defined the organic functioning of reeducation camps. Unlike internment camps elsewhere, Mozambique's camps were not strictly regimented. The carceral regime that emerged not only set Mozambique's reeducation centers apart from camps elsewhere, they were also far from the technocratic moralism and panoptic ambitions of the ruling party.
In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis courts and rights took a backseat to demands of markets and international financial institutions for austerity. Deference and judicial restraint were prevalent in austerity litigation across various European jurisdictions. This article argues that the traditional view of deference to political branches on socio-economic rights should be revised in our political-economic context. Drawing on the work of German sociologist Wolfgang Streeck on representation failures of democratic institutions in our neoliberal era, the article argues that law’s abnegation in this sphere has the effect of securing and legitimising neoliberal hegemony and serves the interests of owners of financial capital. Deference in order to avoid judicial overreach does not entail deference to democracy as legislatures have come to view financial markets as their constituency alongside the general citizenry. As public finances have become marketised, deference to legislatures amounts to deference to markets. Judicial minimalism creates not more democracy but a specific set of winners and losers. In light of severe representation failures where legislatures become tools of market justice we might, subject to various caveats, view a more active judicial role as democracy-enhancing and as a potential counterweight in favour of social justice.
In this issue, MacDonald et al have used data from the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust electronic patient record to investigate the relationship between service change, routine outcome data and ‘continuity of care’. The period they have looked at was one of huge change in the configuration of services and the background to this is explored here.
Declaration of interest
F.H. was a clinical director of South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and its predecessor organisations from 1991 to 2010.
In this article, I examine the relationship between social movements, Brexit and social policy and consider how political and socio-economic developments since the 2008 financial crisis helped create a fertile ground for Brexit. I query the assumption that Brexit was simply a result of those left behind by globalisation and instead explore why and how actors from across the ideological spectrum supported Brexit and examine the sources of discontent which created the conditions from which Brexit emerged. To understand the relationship, role and impact of social movements and, more widely, civil society on social policy, I argue that it is important to critically examine how diverse actors within civil society are campaigning for the recognition of unmet needs and challenging systems of redistribution and the ways in which they interact and engage with governance institutions and policy processes.
Time Credits are a form of community currency based upon the reciprocal exchange of time and represent an interpretation of ‘time banking’ by a UK social enterprise, Spice. This article sets out the contribution made by research on Time Credits to the theory and practice of co-production in public services. Time Credits are intended to improve wellbeing through volunteering and ultimately increase economic participation. There is a focus on communities exhibiting high levels of deprivation within a small Cambridgeshire town (Wisbech, UK) which is geographically isolated and characterised by low-skilled, agri-food based employment opportunities that attracted high levels of inward migration from the A8 EU accession countries. In separating the rhetoric from the reality of co-production, the research aims to shed some light upon the extent to which such initiatives can realistically engender a shift towards a more reciprocal economy in the context of an ongoing programme of fiscal austerity.
What explains business views regarding policy preferences in the Eurozone crisis? Although recent literature examines the impact of the crisis on citizen views, few studies examine business preferences towards adjustment policies. We present unique data from a new representative survey of 500 high-level firm representatives from Spain to test theories about such preferences, in particular views about the euro, fiscal austerity, and wage devaluation, as well as plausible mechanisms for such preferences. We test three broad families of theories to explain such preferences, focusing on the role of structural firm characteristics, economic hardship, and political leanings of firm managers. We find that first, there is a strong conservative position regarding all of these policies. Second, we find that contra conventional approaches to explaining preferences, for the domestic policies (but not for euro views), the political leanings of firms matter much more than baseline structural characteristics. Third, we find that surprisingly economic hardship does not cause firms to demand more left-wing policies, as it might for voters; in fact, firms that have suffered are likely to be more skeptical of such measures. These findings indicate the need to better measure political orientations of firm respondents and suggest that this is a larger division among firms than previously recognized.
Despite widely held views on fiscal adjustment as a political minefield for government parties, the empirical literature on the issue has been surprisingly inconclusive. A crucial variable that has been often overlooked in the debate is partisan politics. Building on the micro-logic of Albert Hirschman’s ‘exit, voice, and loyalty’ framework, this article offers a novel theoretical perspective on the conditioning impact of partisan government in the electoral arena. Due to their more limited exit options at their disposal, left-wing voters are less likely to inflict electoral punishment on their parties, offering the latter an electoral advantage over their right-wing rivals. Relying on the largest cross-national data set to date on the evolution of close to 100 parties’ popularity ratings in 21 democracies, time-series–cross-section results confirm this electoral advantage. Somewhat paradoxically, while center-right government parties systematically lose popularity in years of fiscal adjustment, no such regularity is found for left-leaning incumbents.
Applying a political economy lens, this article examines the impact of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), within a political context marked by crisis and austerity. Taking the case of Portugal, a country that faced a financial crisis and underwent an austerity plan, the article seeks to understand the impact of the CRPD at domestic level. What has changed, what has remained the same and what has deteriorated? And how has the disability movement responded and resisted to the crisis? This article addresses these questions and discusses the challenges of implementing disability rights in times of ‘enduring’ austerity.
In contrast to much of the political economy literature, this article explores acts of refusal that obstruct attempts to impose austerity measures on advanced industrial democracies. It thereby complements a literature that has thus far focused far more upon the (apparently unobstructed) imposition of austerity. In doing so, it uses two typically ‘low-resistance’ countries – Japan and the UK –as least-likely cases and finds that austerity is rarely uncontested. Using fuzzy set Qualitative Comparative Analysis, it highlights the ‘causal recipes’ sufficient for both (1) anti-austerity activity to have a significant impact on austerity proposals and (2) the smooth (unobstructed) imposition of austerity. The politics of austerity is shown to be better understood as an iterative interaction between proposals for austerity and the acts of refusal they encounter. These obstacles to austerity appear more straightforward to activate effectively in Japan’s coordinated model of capitalism, whilst the UK’s liberal market economy tends to generate more innovative forms of dissent that (if they are sufficiently militant) provide an alternative route towards the obstruction of austerity.
This article compares work-family reconciliation policy since 2008 in two contrasting case-study countries, namely France and the UK, and investigates how post-2008 economic circumstances and austerity measures have interacted with other policy drivers to influence the extent and shape of change in this policy area in these countries. The article demonstrates that work-family reconciliation policy in both countries has been resilient in the face of economic and budgetary problems and progress has been made albeit from different starting points and in path-dependent ways to “degender” parental leave and to improve the affordability of and access to childcare particularly for those on lower incomes. However, it also reveals that in both countries, despite partisan consensus on the need to further develop policy, a combination of economic constraints and the opposition to reform of key social and political actors has put a brake on change.
A growing body of research quantifies the recent impact of fiscal consolidation and public service reform in liberal welfare regimes. However, less is known about how this is affecting the common terms upon which citizenship status is granted and experienced. With this in mind, this article examines what bearing the political crafting of welfare austerity is having on the status, rights and identity of notionally equal citizens. To do so, this article draws on a qualitative study examining lived experiences of poor and rich citizenship in New Zealand and the UK. Despite policy programmes idiosyncratic to their institutional context, both countries exhibit a similarly bifurcated system of social citizenship that is serving to structure, rather than moderate, material and status inequalities in austere welfare regimes.
Job loss, debt and financial difficulties are associated with increased risk of mental illness and suicide in the general population. Interventions targeting people in debt or unemployed might help reduce these effects.
We searched MEDLINE, Embase, The Cochrane Library, Web of Science, and PsycINFO (January 2016) for randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of interventions to reduce the effects of unemployment and debt on mental health in general population samples. We assessed papers for inclusion, extracted data and assessed risk of bias.
Eleven RCTs (n = 5303 participants) met the inclusion criteria. All recruited participants were unemployed. Five RCTs assessed ‘job-club’ interventions, two cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) and a single RCT assessed each of emotional competency training, expressive writing, guided imagery and debt advice. All studies were at high risk of bias. ‘Job club’ interventions led to improvements in levels of depression up to 2 years post-intervention; effects were strongest among those at increased risk of depression (improvements of up to 0.2–0.3 s.d. in depression scores). There was mixed evidence for effectiveness of group CBT on symptoms of depression. An RCT of debt advice found no effect but had poor uptake. Single trials of three other interventions showed no evidence of benefit.
‘Job-club’ interventions may be effective in reducing depressive symptoms in unemployed people, particularly those at high risk of depression. Evidence for CBT-type interventions is mixed; further trials are needed. However the studies are old and at high risk of bias. Future intervention studies should follow CONSORT guidelines and address issues of poor uptake.
Viewed within their historical context, recent cuts to public social spending and increasingly governmental welfare reforms reflect and beget a shift in the praxis of social citizenship in the UK. This review article demonstrates how greater conceptual attention to the constitutive features of social citizenship can help clarify some of the claims made about its relation to austerity and welfare reform within the existing literature. Through schematic consideration of the emerging evidence, this article suggests that welfare austerity is undermining the ‘effectiveness’, ‘inalienability’ and ‘universality’ of social citizenship in the UK.