By Donald J. Johnston
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Extra info for Extending Opportunities: How Active Social Policy Can Benefit Us All
2. THE NEED FOR MORE ACTIVE SOCIAL POLICIES working-age population. While population ageing reflects many factors outside the reach of social policies, the heavy burden it puts on the public purse is in part a consequence of the failure of social protection to adequately support families with children so as to create more favourable conditions for raising birth rates. Growing immigration towards OECD countries also confronts social protection with a range of new demands, while also offering benefits.
Provision from a diversity of providers has indeed promoted choice and innovation, but efficiency gains have often been limited, because of the high costs of individualised provision, informational asymmetries between providers and consumers, and cross-subsidisation of particular groups. Moreover, private provision has raised problems related to the uneven coverage of the population. In other cases, however, these reforms have helped to increase the scale of resources devoted to social protection: for example, in the case of long-term care to the frail elderly in several OECD countries, reforms seem to have led to an increase in total provision in some sectors (Ascoli and Ranci, 2002).
The drive towards a greater role of the private sector within the social protection system of OECD countries has taken two main forms (Ascoli and Ranci, 2002). ● The first has focused on the supply-side of welfare provision, whereby different private providers compete for public contracts to deliver different social benefits. This model retains public responsibility for the financing of social protection, while allowing for greater competition among private providers. The advantages of this model include the greater efficiency and innovation that competition could deliver, and the possibility of ensuring that individuals with less capacity-to-pay are not excluded from private provision.
Extending Opportunities: How Active Social Policy Can Benefit Us All by Donald J. Johnston