Welfare State, Social Policy and Social Work in Post-Communist Countries – Transition, Challenges, Similarities

Together with Michal Polakowski, we had the pleasure to participate in a seminar that gathered a group of East and Central European scholars working on various dimensions of welfare state transformation. The seminar took place at Warsaw University, organized by the editors of the journal Social Policy Issues.

The title of our paper was: The politics (and policies) of social investment in the Visegrad countries: the cases of childcare and active labour market policies and is our contribution to the book (and a project) World Politics of Social Investment (WOPSI).

Paper abstract:

Existing research on social policies in Visegrad Four countries (V4: the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia) show that what these countries have in common is a low emphasis placed on childcare services for the children under three demonstrated by low enrollment rates. Further, although substantial investment took place in the case of Active Labour Market Policies (ALMP), this was, to a large extent, possible mainly thanks to the use of the EU structural policies, while the systematic inclusion of ALMP into the national system is relatively weak in a wider comparative perspective. While the structural pressure for introducing social investment have been even more profound for this group of countries and yet, the social investment approach became a part of the agenda for social policy reforms only to a limited extent.In this paper we will focus on two policy fields: childcare for children under the age of three, and active labour market policy (ALMP). The analysis will include V4 countries, with the emphasis on post-EU accession developments (i.e. after 2004). We are proposing a systematic comparison of the reforms focusing on the most important reforms (or negligence) in these two policy fields with some elements of coalitional dynamics, when pointing to the actors in support of certain policies.

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