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The ‘paradox of the shrinking middle’: The central dilemma of European social policy

Frericks, Patricia and Harvey, Mark and Maier, Robert (2010) 'The ‘paradox of the shrinking middle’: The central dilemma of European social policy.' Critical Social Policy, 30 (3). pp. 315-336. ISSN 0261-0183

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Abstract

<jats:p> Life-course studies show that life courses have changed in several systematic ways. Because people now spend more years in education, participation in the labour market tends to start later. More time is spent in lifelong learning in the middle phase, in addition to work and care activities. Following decades during which the effective retirement age declined, the effective retirement age has now increased slightly, and life expectancy continues to rise. These interlocking changes bring about the ‘paradox of the (proportionately) shrinking middle’. Social policy, with its objectives of social security, care, education and social cohesion, has been financed primarily through the wage, confined to the ‘shrinking middle’ phase of employment. Our thesis is that neither the established channels of resource flows nor the magnitude of resources are sufficiently well attuned to the challenges of existing life courses in present-day capitalist welfare states. </jats:p>

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: ageing; capitalist economies; knowledge society; life-course policies; resource flows
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences
Faculty of Social Sciences > Sociology, Department of
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 16 Jan 2013 12:57
Last Modified: 15 Jan 2022 00:28
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/5099

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