23 SES 07 B, Equality
Parallel Paper Session
Much comparative work in the field of social policy has been concerned with how welfare regimes might be conceptualised. Research has tended to focus on social transfer payments as opposed to services; however, services are fundamentally important within the welfare state. This paper seeks to add to the literature by focusing on one particular service area and one which is seldom addressed in research on the welfare state, namely education. The paper argues that there is a strong case for its inclusion in research on the welfare state.
Education is important for the distribution of life chances and more specifically, within the European Union, it is seen as a means to enhance employment opportunities, reduce poverty and increase economic competitiveness. It has also been argued that future research in social policy needs to clarify the relationship between educational investment, educational institutions, and the distribution of life chances in different welfare states and educational regimes (Allmendinger and Leibfried, 2003).
Europe`s education and training regimes are faced with twin challenges: efficiency and equity (COM 2006). While efficiency generally relates to how an education system increases the knowledge and skill capacity of the future labour force, equity concerns the distribution of educational opportunity. However, education systems across the European Union vary across a range of different dimensions – for example, the amount invested in education and the characteristics of the educational institutions. In light of the proposition that education is integral to the welfare state, the question this paper seeks to answer is: Can education regimes akin to those identified in the comparative welfare states literature relating to social transfer payments and to social services be discerned within the EU (and the US)? And if so, what is their nature and how do they relate to welfare regimes? To answer these questions, we propose to use a set of indicators that measure the quality and equality of education systems. The focus in this paper is not on the education system in its entirety. Instead it focuses on primary and secondary education: primary education is compulsory as is much secondary education unlike higher education.
The rationale for focusing on education as an arena within the welfare state is addressed in first section. The paper then explores research on prevailing classifications of education systems and welfare regimes. Exploratory analyses of primary and secondary school systems are presented in the fourth section: the paper focuses on the EU-25 countries and the US (for comparison purposes) and on primary and secondary education (the former and much of the latter being compulsory). Here the paper investigates the extent to which different ‘ideal types’ can be discerned. The final section discusses the findings in light of extant literature on welfare regimes.
Allmendinger, J. and Leibfried, S. (2003), ‘Education and the Welfare State: The Four Worlds of Competence Production’, Journal of European Social Policy, 13: 1, 63–81. Commission of the European Communities (2006), Communication from the Commission to the Council and to the European Parliament Efficiency and equity in european education and training systems COM(2006) 481 final. Luxembourg: Office for the Official Publications of the European Communities, http://ec.europa.eu/education/policies/2010/doc/comm481_en.pdf, accessed 9 January 2012. Esping-Andersen, G. (1990), The Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism, Oxford: Polity Press.
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