Reading Between the Welfare Lines: Politics and Policy Structure in Post-Communist Europe
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This article takes as its point of reference the individual structural characteristics of four policies-unemployment benefits, pensions, health benefits and family benefits. Structural characteristics of social policies are the formulas that define their organisational arrangements: funding arrangements, benefit distributions, income replacement rates and duration periods. Replacement rates, for example, have become a much used indicator of benefit coverage, and since they measure the percentage of a worker's previous wage received as a welfare benefit, comparing them across years and countries shows whether the benefit level of the policy has changed. Means-testing of benefits has also become a frequently employed measure of structural change. By using family or household income as a measuring device to distinguish beneficiaries, the purpose of the policy shifts away from providing universal benefits to supplying targeted poverty assistance. Other social policy adjustments similarly highlight changes in decision making. A decrease in the duration of unemployment benefits or an increase in the percentage of personal income an employee contributes to the government's pension fund, for example, alters the structural characteristics of these policies.
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