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Content archived on 2024-04-30

Social integration through obligations to work? Current European "W ORKFARE" initiatives and future directions


Many European countries are experimenting with "workfare" - programmes requiring people to work in jobs established by public authorities in return for social assistance. This project would research workfare programmes to produce a comparative model (taxonomy) of such schemes and a review of their empirical outcomes, informing both research and policy development.
More specifically the project has three objectives, each the managerial responsibility of a named institution. These aims are:

- The development of a common analytic framework and evaluation methodology for comparative studies of "work for social assistance" (workfare) policies.
- The description and evaluation of current and previous programmes, building on that framework.

- The development of recommendations for programme evolution, and priorities for additional research.

In the proposal, we argue that unemployment continues to be a common European problem. Usually targeted at young recipients of social assistance, workfare is proposed as a solution that will assist re-integration, reduce costs, discourage dependence and/or target social assistance on the most needy. Current and future trends suggest workfare will become more important. Evidence gathered from six countries demonstrates both a significant history of workfare in Europe, and a recent expansion in the number of such programmes. Programme evaluations have been conducted, or are in progress, based on a multiplicity of objectives and which have reached a range of initial conclusions.

The research would commence with a review of existing knowledge, designed to build a conceptual model of workfare. This will provide the basis for re-analysis or re-evaluation of existing data and information, and data collection in two countries where workfare schemes exist but have not yet been evaluated. Existing impact studies will be supplemented by process studies in all countries, important since implementation often differs from policy. The integration of new and existing research studies will indicate those features of schemes that are relatively effective, and those less so, and the problems faced in moving from policy to successful implementation.
The network of institutions has been formed on the basis both of pre-existing liaison arrangements, and the identification of leading researchers knowledgeable about social assistance and the labour market, and experienced in the methods of workfare evaluations.

Call for proposal

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EU contribution
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2 B,Borggata 2 B
0608 OSLO

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Total cost
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Participants (5)