Mandatory Volunteer Work as Fair Reciprocity for Unemployment and Social Benefits?

17 Pages Posted: 4 Sep 2015

See all articles by Lex Veldboer

Lex Veldboer

University of Amsterdam

Reinout Kleinhans

Delft University of Technology

Maarten van Ham

Delft University of Technology - OTB Research Institute for Housing, Urban and Mobility Studies; University of St. Andrews; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Abstract

Modern welfare policies are increasingly based on notions of reciprocity. Citizens on welfare benefits have to do something in return, e.g. volunteer work. Notwithstanding general public support, social philosophers have been critical on 'mandatory' activities in community programmes. So far, the participants themselves have scarcely been asked about the (un)fairness of 'mandatory volunteering'. This small exploratory study aims to reveal the perceptions of female participants in mandatory volunteering programmes and to formulate directions for further research. We analyse how in Rotterdam the transition from labour market re-integration policies to a mandatory reciprocity approach is viewed by long-term unemployed women who were already volunteering. Surprisingly, they claim that the new approach better recognises their contribution to 'society'. They also view the policy as necessary and fair to other benefit claimants who are perceived to lack any motivation to give something back to society. An agenda for further research is presented.

Keywords: social justice, welfare policies, gender, unemployment, reciprocity, volunteering, social benefits, austerity, Rotterdam

JEL Classification: J24, J28, J64

Suggested Citation

Veldboer, Lex and Kleinhans, Reinout and van Ham, Maarten, Mandatory Volunteer Work as Fair Reciprocity for Unemployment and Social Benefits?. IZA Discussion Paper No. 9111, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2655060

Lex Veldboer (Contact Author)

University of Amsterdam

Spui 21
Amsterdam, 1018 WB
Netherlands

Reinout Kleinhans

Delft University of Technology ( email )

Maarten Van Ham

Delft University of Technology - OTB Research Institute for Housing, Urban and Mobility Studies ( email )

P.O. Box 5043
2600 GA Delft
Netherlands
+31 15 278 2782 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.maartenvanham.nl

University of St. Andrews ( email )

North St
Saint Andrews, Fife KY16 9AJ
United Kingdom

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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