chapter  11
18 Pages

Discretionary Assistance to the Poor: The Case of France

The post 1945 welfare state was designed to protect individuals against 'old social risks', that is, sickness, old age, unemployment and caring for a dependent such as a child or a frail elderly person (Esping-Andersen, 1999). The four types of welfare regimes (Continental, Southern European, Scandinavian and liberal) identified by Esping-Andersen (1990) and Ferrera (1996) covered the average male production worker against such risks. Changes in the labour market due to the transition to a post-industrial, service-oriented economy led to the apparition of new social risks from the late 1970s onwards. This trend has accelerated ever since and has become a major challenge for contemporary welfare states. The lack of relevant skills in an increasingly selective labour market and long-term unemployment represent these core new social risks. Esping-Andersen's authoritative argument is that the traditional welfare state, regardless of regime differentiation, is ill-equipped to meet the common new challenges of the 21 s t century. He claims that:

In fact, the founding fathers of the welfare state were committed to a fullemployment society, whereby social assistance would become redundant since all individuals would be protected through their participation in the labour market.