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date: 05 December 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article presents an overview of social assistance programmes in the broad sense. It briefly describes their development and maps different types of assistance in Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries based on the seminal study by Eardley et al. The salience and generosity of minimum income schemes, and the political conflicts and debates are discussed. It further reviews new policies that have changed the character of assistance programmes, most notably welfare-to-work. This analysis largely focuses on OECD countries. It finally takes a global perspective looking at social safety-nets in developing and transition countries. The overall salience of minimum income systems has not generally grown in spite of worsening labour market conditions and welfare retrenchment policies. The way in which social assistance schemes are institutionally embedded in overall social policies, education systems, and labour markets is highly important.

Keywords: social assistance, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, minimum income, assistance programmes, labour market, social policies, education systems

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