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Neoliberalism, welfare policy and health: A qualitative meta-synthesis of single parents' experience of the transition from welfare to work.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  22392367     Owner:  NLM     Status:  Publisher    
Abstract/OtherAbstract:
Following the United States' lead, the emergence of neoliberal welfare policy across the western world has resulted in employment programmes for single parents, who are predominantly single mothers. While some governments claim that employment will improve single parents' incomes and well-being, researchers dispute that single parents can unproblematically move into the workforce, with net positive effects. While researchers have quantified the socio-economic effect of these programmes, in particular on participant health, no study has yet synthesized participants' experiences of welfare-to-work. Here, I present a meta-synthesis of eight qualitative health-related studies of single parents' (and exclusively single mothers') welfare-to-work transition. I report that single mothers faced a combination of health and economic issues which made their transition from welfare to work difficult, including degrees of poor physical and mental health. For participants in the United States, these health issues were often compounded by a loss of health benefits on moving into low-wage employment. In countries where a return to employment was required before children reached school age, a lack of affordable and appropriate child care, especially for children with health problems, exacerbated these difficulties. As a result of scarce resources, single mothers in receipt of welfare benefits often relied on food banks or went without food. A return to the workforce did not alleviate this problem as additional child care and reduced government subsidies depleted the funds available for food. I conclude that welfare-to-work policies are underpinned by the neoliberal assumption that the market more efficiently distributes resources than the State. However, for the women in the studies examined here, labour market participation often depleted access to essential resources. Interventions to address the 'problem' of welfare dependency must recognize the complex interplay between work incentives and disincentives and the care-work of single mothers.
Authors:
Kay Cook
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Publication Detail:
Type:  JOURNAL ARTICLE     Date:  2012-3-5
Journal Detail:
Title:  Health (London, England : 1997)     Volume:  -     ISSN:  1461-7196     ISO Abbreviation:  -     Publication Date:  2012 Mar 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2012-3-6     Completed Date:  -     Revised Date:  -    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  9800465     Medline TA:  Health (London)     Country:  -    
Other Details:
Languages:  ENG     Pagination:  -     Citation Subset:  -    
Affiliation:
RMIT University.
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