Supportive Social Welfare Systems encourage positive attitudes to work.
I have always been curious about research on the effectiveness of social security systems, as I thought the vast majority of citizens receiving help would do their best to find work quickly.
Here is evidence that they do. More over, the more help the community gives (through social security programmes) the more citizens want to work! Why do I say this, a report from European social researchers…
I was curious to see a report, in ScienceDaily describing research by two Norwegian researchers published titled: “The bigger the worse? A comparative study study of the welfare state and employment commitment.”
The authors introduce and describe their research using data collected by interview in the European Union, covering 17-18 European countries. Total respondent numbers were 19331.
The sociologists asked for responses to the statement “I would enjoy having a paid job even if I did not need the money”. Contrary to what we are typically expect in New Zealand, citizens from countries with “generous and supportative” social security systems want to work contrary to the “Dole bludger” stories we here in New Zealand. In the words of the authors, “The article finds increasing employment commitment as social spending gets more generating and activating. This was also evident for weaker groups in the labour market, although the effect was less pronounced in some groups.” The authors go on to say that, communities that provide strong social service support as: “welfare provision, welfare generosity and active labour market policies” result in “employment commitment” for both those in work and those seeking work; and for groups often on the margins of employment such as those with poor health, the low skilled, the non-employed and women.” People want to work; if they can.
Clearly, this is a single paper in this field, studying, as the authors put it, “welfare state design and people’s fundamental inclination to work” and there are different points of view. My concern is that, in the New Zealand context, the dominant stories are of: welfare dependence, dole bludging and beneficiary abuse. The stories of citizens doing the best they can, while looking for work or recovering from an illness are not heard. And, my concern is that, policy debates are on the basis of anecdotes and prejudice rather than evidence.
The original paper is here: The bigger the worse? A comparative study of the welfare state and employment commitment. http://wes.sagepub.com/content/early/2014/11/20/0950017014542499.abstract
The Sciencedaily comment is here: Generous welfare benefits make people more likely to want to work, not less. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150331074345.htm