Making Work Pay: Interrogating a New Welfare State Function
- Jochen Clasen (University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom)
- Daniel Clegg (University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom)
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:
- History: Are there antecedents for contemporary make work pay policies? And what light do debates over them shed on current policy?
- Effects: What impact have make work pay policies had on the structure of employment, individual labour market trajectories and outcomes such as working poverty?
- Politics: What are the coalitional bases of making work pay strategies? Is there evidence these policies are introduced in response to employer demands? What is the position of trade unions? What role has been played by international organisations like the OECD and supranational bodies like the EU in the diffusion of this policy logic?
〈 List of Stream Themes