Reforming Social Security: Improving Incentives and Capabilities

Griffith Law Review, Vol. 16, No. 1, pp. 1-26, 2007

Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 08/12

36 Pages Posted: 3 Jan 2008  

Terry Carney

The University of Sydney Law School

Abstract

Over the last decade, Australian social security for people of workforce age has incorporated, in an unduly purist form, neoliberal concepts of contested markets for labourmarket services, individualisation of responsibility/risk for remaining on welfare, a 'job first' approach to exiting from welfare, and the combined pressure of deregulation of the labourmarket and welfare sanctions for breach of 'mutual obligations' to pressure people to return to work. This paper argues that such one-dimensional approaches have added to the economic disincentives for workforce participation, bear harshly on vulnerable populations such as sole parents and the disabled, have a poor record of generating lasting labourforce participation, and are ethically problematic on the basis of a return to 'blaming the victim'. Despite shortcomings of the 'capacity' literature, it is argued that the state owes a moral obligation to develop the human capital of welfare clients, in ways respectful both of their dignity and their rights, consistent with a social citizenship model.

Keywords: Welfare reform, social capital, third way, social investment

JEL Classification: K10, K31, I30, I38

Suggested Citation

Carney, Terry, Reforming Social Security: Improving Incentives and Capabilities. Griffith Law Review, Vol. 16, No. 1, pp. 1-26, 2007; Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 08/12. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1080088

Terry Carney (Contact Author)

The University of Sydney Law School ( email )

New Law Building, F10
The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006
Australia

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