The recalibration of the French welfare system

Authored by: Patrick Hassenteufel , Bruno Palier

Routledge Handbook of European Welfare Systems

Print publication date:  December  2019
Online publication date:  November  2019

Print ISBN: 9780367259150
eBook ISBN: 9780429290510
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9780429290510-12

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Abstract

In France, a new reform sequence of welfare policies started in the early 1990s when structural changes were adopted: creation of new benefits to cope with growing social exclusion, changes in the financing of the system to render the system more employment-friendly, and institutional reforms aiming to empower the state within the system at the expense of social partners. This structural change sequence also includes new retrenchment measures, especially in the pension, health insurance, and unemployment insurance sectors, and a growing Europeanisation of welfare policies in France. It led to a ‘recalibration’ of the French welfare state increasingly based on personal social rights and benefits (and less on the belonging to an occupational group): universal coverage in healthcare, the development of the means-tested logic for family benefits, new personal protections aiming to compensate the liberalisation of the labour market, new rights for disabled persons, and the development of non-contributory social benefits. The continuity of the reform trend, corresponding more to an incremental recalibration than to an abrupt change, can be explained by the intensity of social mobilisations against main reform projects and the high legitimacy of the French ‘Sécurité sociale’.

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