In all welfare states the debate on welfare reform continues, especially the form that welfare arrangements should take. Roughly we can discern a shift from a passive to a more active welfare state. Passive welfare merely provides income support as compensation for all kinds of contingencies (illness, disability, unemployment). The active welfare state tries to reduce unemployment by tightening the work-test: from a duty to apply regularly for jobs to a more demanding policy of asking reciprocal efforts from welfare recipients in return for the social benefit. This policy avoids that welfare recipients have to wait and see whether a job comes along and simply stay at home. Instead, mandatory participation in (re)training, public employment or subsidised private employment programmes is put forward as a promising effort to combat social exclusion and poverty, and also motivated by striking the balance between social security rights and its correlative duties. This book advocates to go into the opposite direction, that of an unconditional basic income (BI). A positive justification for the proposal of a substantial BI is given, taking into account the majority support (opposition) for workfare (BI) and the serious objections (parasitism, exploitation) made in the literature. A substantial BI may adapt the postwar institutions of social security to the dynamism of contemporary labour markets, combine adequate social protection with the demands of flexible labour markets, it may lead to a more equitable distribution of income, of paid work, of care work and of free time between men and women, to less involuntary unemployment, better working conditions for low wage workers and to a reduction in administrative costs for providing minimum income social security.


Welfare Reform Welfare Recipient Basic Income Flexible Labour Market Involuntary Unemployment 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Loek Groot
    • 1
  1. 1.University of AmsterdamThe Netherlands

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