084 Social Care Policies in Europe: Old Dilemmas, New Solutions

Tuesday, June 25, 2013: 4:00 PM-5:45 PM
2.22 (Binnengasthuis)
Panel title: Social care policies in Europe: old dilemmas, new solutions

Proposers: Margarita León (Universitat Autònoma Barcelona, Spain) and Costanzo Ranci  (Polytechnic of Milan, Italy)

The aim of this session is to analyze the tensions and innovation occurring in social care policy  in different European countries. This policy field has been characterized in the last years by two different trends. On the one hand, new policy programs have been introduced in many countries in the attempt to meet the increasing demand for care. On the other hand, cost containment measures and spending cuts have been brought in, in order to deal with the past and current fiscal crisis. Squeezed between these two contrasting trends, social care policies have been paradoxically characterized by strong institutional innovation in most of the European countries. These aspects of change were already discussed and analytically studied in a previous session on social care policies held in the 2011 CES Conference in Boston.

In this second session the aim is to take a closer look at these changes addressing some theoretical and methodological problems emerging from empirical analyses. One important aspect is related to the direction of change: while in some countries innovation has brought about an expansion in public intervention, in other countries targeted spending cuts have been dominating. But what is more interesting, is that contrasting measures, or contradictory policy actions, are evident in same countries, in the same policy field, at the same time. New trade offs and tensions have therefore emerged between policy goals, social entitlements formally recognized on the one hand, and practical adaptation and limited implementation of social care programs due to fiscal or organizational constraints on the other.

On the theoretical side, new concepts and new theories of institutional change must be developed that are able to catch the multifaceted aspects of policy innovation. On the methodological side, moreover, problems of identification of the “dependent variable” have become very relevant in order to understand the real impact of such changes.

The main points of analysis will be:

-       How can we interpret the institutional change happened in this policy field in the last 20 years? What have these changes in common with similar trends occurred in other policy fields and what is peculiar of social care policy? How are care policies reacting in different care regimes to the dilemmas previously considered? What has been the impact of the current financial crisis on such programs?

-       To what extent is historical institutionalism a good conceptual tool to interpret such trends? What other theories and concepts can be considered as helpful in the interpretation of such trends and problems?

-       What are the methodological problems rising from this discussion? How can we define the dependent variable related to institutional changes taking place in social care policy? To what extent should traditional indicators of expenditures or needs’ coverage be complemented by information about the quality of care and care work?

Tine Rostgaard
Mary Daly
Long-Term Care Policies in EU Countries Before and During the Crisis
Costanzo Ranci, Polytechnic of Milan; Emmanuele Pavolini, Macerata University
See more of: Session Proposals