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Getting People Into Work: What (If Anything) Can Justify Mandatory Activation Of Welfare Recipients?

So-called activation policies aiming at bringing jobless people into work have been a central component of welfare reforms across OECD countries during the last decades. Such policies combine restrictive and enabling programs, but their characteristic feature is that also enabling programs are mandatory, and non-compliers are sanctioned. There are four main arguments that can be used to defend mandatory activation of benefit recipients. We label them efficiency, sustainability, paternalism, and justice. Each argument is analyzed in turn and according to a strict scheme. First we clarify which standards it invokes. Thereafter we evaluate each argument according to its own standards Finally we introduce competing normative concerns that have to be taken into account. In the conclusion we discuss possible constellations of arguments that make up the normative space for activation policies.

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Paper provided by University of Bergen, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers in Economics with number 03/13.

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Length: 37 pages
Date of creation: 12 Jun 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:bergec:2013_003
Contact details of provider: Postal: Institutt for økonomi, Universitetet i Bergen, Postboks 7802, 5020 Bergen, Norway
Phone: (+47)55589200
Fax: (+47)55589210
Web page: http://www.uib.no/econ/en
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  12. Claus Thustrup Kreiner & Torben Tranæs, 2003. "Optimal Workfare with Voluntary and Involuntary Unemployment," EPRU Working Paper Series 03-15, Economic Policy Research Unit (EPRU), University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics, revised Aug 2004.
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  15. Richard H. Thaler & Cass R. Sunstein, 2003. "Libertarian Paternalism," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(2), pages 175-179, May.
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  17. Eichhorst, Werner & Konle-Seidl, Regina, 2008. "Contingent Convergence: A Comparative Analysis of Activation Policies," IZA Discussion Papers 3905, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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