Modernising Social Policy for the New Life Course

image of Modernising Social Policy for the New Life Course

This seminar proceedings examines whether the current designs of social protection systems in OECD societies are well-suited to contemporary life-course realities. It looks in detail at recent policy developments in OECD countries to develop more flexible time-based social policies, as well as related issues, such as asset-based welfare programmes, as well as policies to encourage redistribution of income and/or time over the life course and how these might be structured most effectively.



Life-course Policies and the Labour Market

Life-course policies have become a major concern for international organisations and national governments. This trend is related to some common labour market problems experienced by many industrialised countries, especially the low employment rates of the senior population (over 55 or even 50), and work/family reconciliation problems following the compression of working careers in the age 25-50. Our presentation of these issues relies first on a theoretical analysis of life-course policies, which shows that these schemes are based on three major paradigms, namely life cycle and transitional labour markets in economics, and the life-course approach in sociology. A comparative study of policies then leads to two main conclusions, and some policy recommendations. First, social protection and employment regimes have differentiated effects on life course. In a global perspective, the Nordic model appears to be the most favourable in terms of flexibility in time allocation over the entire life cycle, and thus it is associated with a better conciliation between work and family life. Nevertheless, some inequalities remain between men and women. Second, beyond country differences, there is a general trend to an individualisation of time management, and to an extension of the time period concerned, for instance through time saving programmes. However, this trend remains limited, and should be further developed in order to ensure a wider coverage and to build new rights for people on the labour market (for instance through a better transferability).


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