Stream 4

Making Work Pay: Interrogating a New Welfare State Function

Stream convenors:
In recent decades governments in many developed countries have introduced policies to stimulate labour supply among individuals with limited earnings potential by subsidising work at lower levels of pay. These ‘make work pay’ policies have operated either by reducing employers’ non-wage labour costs or directly boosting incomes of low-earning workers, through tax credits or in-work benefits. In a number of countries such policies have grown, often with seemingly limited debate, to represent a substantial component of social expenditure. Making work pay represents a significant departure for the welfare state, which traditionally directed cash transfers to individuals and/or households mainly on the basis of the absence of income from paid work. Wage subsidies are of course a longstanding instrument of ALMP, but were conventionally deliberately time-limited and/or narrowly targeted to prevent unintended labour market effects. Making work pay thus represents a major shift in the prevailing logic of both social security and labour market policy. And yet to date interest in these policies among social policy scholars has been limited, and knowledge on them remains fragmentary.

This stream invites papers analysing make work pay policies from a variety of perspectives. Possible analytical entry points include, but are not limited to:
⟨ List of Stream Themes