SPOL20260 Social Protection: Security, Work and Poverty

Academic Year 2022/2023

This module explores the income maintenance function of the Irish welfare state in the OECD context. It examines why and how states provide income supports for individuals and households, what direct effects these supports have on incomes and living standards, what indirect effects they may have by way of incentives for certain kinds of behaviour (e.g. in promoting employment), and how they relate to services that might provide alternative means of supporting well-being (e.g. childcare, job-training). The module considers income support for childhood, working age and old age separately and introduces various means to achieve this goal beyond core welfare state schemes (tax, social insurance, private/informal protection). Welfare benefits discussed in the module include, for instance, parental leave, childcare vouchers, student grants/loans, jobseeker's allowance, family income supplement, pensions and long-term care payments. In the final lecture, the future of the welfare state is discussed around digitalisation and gig economy, EU social policy and the Pillars of Social Rights, ageing and migration. Particular attention is paid to current welfare debates on ‘social investment’, ‘activation’, ‘new social risks’ and ‘individualisation’.
The module is delivered mainly through lectures and independent learning. In class discussions and group work will support the learning experience to give students the chance to critically reflect on concepts and issues of social protection.

Show/hide contentOpenClose All

Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

By the end of this module, you will have an improved understanding of what social protection is and how it works both in Ireland and in other parts of the OECD. You will be aware of major questions and concerns that arise about social protection and be able to comment critically on the issues involved. You will also have a basic understanding of some of the technical issues that arise in the study of social protection, for example, in regard to the measurement of poverty and income inequality and the analysis of incentive effects on behaviour. At the end of the module you should also have a good understanding how to interpret descriptive statistics and a basic knowledge how to interpret more advanced statistical analysis.
In the mid-term assignment you will apply your knowledge to critically assess the most recent social protection budget changes announced in autumn the previous year.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
This module is based on lectures and independent reading.

All module content is supported with multiple online resources such as readings or videos ahead of lectures. Occasionally, the lectures are supported with in-class quizzes and discussions. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations
Learning Recommendations:

No prior learning is required. This video gives you an idea about the global challenges of social security systems and this module will discuss how these issues apply to Ireland, Europe and around the world.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-kofA0aWk4 (up to 1:30 minutes the video explains what social protection is, SocialProtection.org)

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Multiple Choice Questionnaire: MCQ on module content, online 1 hour End of Trimester Exam n/a Alternative linear conversion grade scale 40% No


Assignment: blog comment & analysis on latest budget (600 words) Week 6 n/a Alternative linear conversion grade scale 40% No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Autumn Yes - 1 Hour
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

For the blog assignment students will receive individual feedback via BrightSpace and class feedback in the lectures.

Core Background Readings:

Dukelow, F. and Considine, M. (2017), Irish Social Policy. A Critical Introduction, Bristol: Policy Press, Chapter 7: Social Security Policy
Mills, F. and Rehill, P. (2005), 'Income Maintenance', in S. Quin, P. Kennedy, A. Matthews and G. Kiely (eds.), Contemporary Irish Social Policy, Dublin: University College Dublin Press. [see Brightspace (BS)]
Additional Background Readings

Greve, B. (2015) Welfare and the Welfare State. Present and Future. Oxon: Routledge. (ch 2, 4-7, 9). Link.
Daly, M and Yeates, N (2003) ‘Common Origins, different paths: adaptation and change in social security in Britain and Ireland’ Policy and Politics Vol 31 No 1: 85-97.
Flora, P. and Heidenheimer, A.J. (1981), The Development of Welfare States in Europe and America, New Brunswick: Transaction, esp. chapters 2, 5 [see BS].
NESC (2005) The Developmental Welfare State, Dublin: The National Economic and Social Council. Esp. Chapters 3, 5, 7. [BS]
Specific Readings for Lectures

lecture 2
Flora/Alber (core reading), ch2
Schmitt, C. (2015) ‘Social Security Development and the Colonial Legacy’, World Development 70 332-342. Link, pdf.

Additional reading
Montanari, I. (2001), 'Modernization, globalization and the welfare state: a comparative analysis of old and new convergence of social insurance since 1930', British Journal of Sociology, 52: 3, 469–494. Link. DOI:10.1080/00071310120071142
Maier, R., de Graaf, W. and Frericks, P. (2007), 'Pension Reforms in Europe and Life-course Politics', Social Policy & Administration, 41: 5, 487–504. pdf
Rowlingson, K. (2009), '‘From cradle to grave’: social security and the life course', in J. Millar (ed.), Understanding Social Security. Issues for policy and practice, Bristol: Policy Press. [BS]

lecture 3
Adema, W., Fron, P. and Ladaique, M. (2014), 'How much do OECD countries spend on social protection and how redistributive are their tax/benefit systems?', International Social Security Review, 67: 1, 1-25. Link, pdf.

Additional reading
Barr, N. (2004), The Economics of the Welfare State, Oxford: Oxford University Press, ch1 [pdf Bp]
Katznelson, I. (1988), 'The Welfare State as a Contested Institutional Idea', Politics & Society, 16: 4, 517–531.

lecture 4
Milanovic, B. (2012), 'Global Inequality: From Class to Location, from Proletarians to Migrants', Global Policy, 3: 2, 125-134. doi: 10.1111/j.1758-5899.2012.00170.x, pdf
Béland, D. and Mahon, R. (2016) Advanced Introduction to Social Policy. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar. Chapter 5 [BS]

Additional reading
OECD (2015), In It Together. Why Less Inequality Benefits All, Paris: OECD. chapter 1. Link.
OECD (2011), Divided We Stand. Why Inequality Keeps Rising, Paris: OECD. Link.
OECD (2008), Growing Unequal?, Paris: OECD. Link.

lectures 5-6
Korpi, W. and Palme, J. (1998), 'The paradox of redistribution and strategies of equality: Welfare state institutions, inequality, and poverty in the western countries', American Sociological Review, 63: 5, 661–687. Link, Pdf.
OECD (2016) Weaving Together Policies for Social Inclusion in Ireland. Paris: OECD. ch 1. Link, pdf.

Additional reading
Watson, D., Maître, B., Whelan, C. T. and Russell, H. (2016) Social Risk and Social Class Patterns in Poverty and Quality of Life in Ireland. An analysis of the CSO Survey on Income and Living Conditions, 2004 to 2013. Social Inclusion Report No. 6. Dublin: Department of Social Protection, Economic and Social Research Institute, chapter 3, Link, pdf.
Watson, D. and Maître, B. (2013), Social Transfers and Poverty Alleviation in Ireland. An Analysis of the Survey on Income and Living Conditions 2004 - 2011. Social Inclusion Report No. 4, Dublin: Department of Social Protection, Economic and Social Research Institute, chapter 3 [BS].

lecture 7
Van Kersbergen, K. and Hemerijck, A. (2012), 'Two Decades of Change in Europe: The Emergence of the Social Investment State', Journal of Social Policy, 41: 3, 475-492. Link.

Additional reading
Nolan, B. (2013), 'What use is ‘social investment’?', Journal of European Social Policy, 23: 5, 459–468. Link. PDF.
Cantillon, B. and Van Lancker, W. (2011), 'The paradox of the social investment state: growth, employment and poverty in the Lisbon era', Journal of European Social Policy, 21: 5, 432-449. Link.
Morel, N., Palier, B. and Palme, J. (2012), Towards a social investment welfare state?, Bristol: Policy Press. (Trinity library, chapters 1, 6, 8 BS).
Kvist, J. (2015), 'A framework for social investment strategies: Integrating generational, life course and gender perspectives in the EU social investment strategy', Comparative European Politics, 13: 1, 131-149. Link. PDF.
Byrne, J.P. (2007) Tax Individualisation: time for a re-think (with a Foreword by Joan Burton TD), Dublin: The Iona Institute.

lecture 8
Bonoli, G. (2005), 'The Politics of the New Social Policies: Providing Coverage Against New Social Risks in Mature Welfare States', Policy & Politics, 33: 3, 431–449. Link.
Nelson, K. (2007), 'Universalism versus targeting: The vulnerability of social insurance and means-tested minimum income protection in 18 countries, 1990-2002', International Social Security Review, 60: 1, 33–58. Link, pdf.

Additional reading
Whelan, C. T. and Maitre, B. (2008) ‘'New' and 'Old' Social Risks: Life Cycle and Social Class Perspectives on Social Exclusion in Ireland’, Economic and Social Review 39 (2): 131-156. Link.
Brady, D. and Burroway, R (2012), ‘Targeting, Universalism, and Single-Mother Poverty: A Multilevel Analysis across 18 Affluent Democracies’, Demography 49:719–746. Link, pdf.
Hacker, J.S. (2006), The Great Risk Shift: The Assault on American Jobs, Families, Health Care, and Retirement. And How You Can Fight Back, Oxford: OUP. [ch 2]
Taylor-Gooby, P. (2004), 'New Risks and Social Change', in P. Taylor-Gooby (ed.), New Risks, New Welfare. The Transformation of the European Welfare State, Oxford: Oxford University Press: 1–28. [pdf Bp]

Childhood and Education

lecture 9
Smeeding, Tim (2006) “Poor People in Rich Nations: The United States in Comparative Perspective” Journal of Economic Perspectives, 20(1) [especially pp. 78-88] Link, pdf.

Additional reading (updates to Nolan 1993)
Nolan, Brian (1993) Policy and Poverty 1: Reforming Child Income Support, Dublin: Combat Poverty Agency [pp. 1-9] http://www.cpa.ie/publications/DP1_ReformingChildIncomeSupport_1993.pdf.
Advisory Group on Tax and Social Welfare (2012) First Report: Child and Family Income Support, Dublin: Department of Social Protection [especially pp. 1-32]. Link, pdf
Department of Social Protection (2012) National Social Target for Poverty Reduction. Policy Briefing, Dublin: DSP. Link, pdf

lecture 10
International Labour Organisation (ILO) (2014) Maternity and Paternity at Work: Law and Practice across the World, Geneva: ILO http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---dgreports/---dcomm/---publ/documents/publication/wcms_242615.pdf [read pp. 7-28]
Daly, M; Rush, M (2018) Ireland. In S. Blum, A. Koslowski, A. Macht, P. Moss: 14th International Review of Leave Policies and Related Research 2018, Available at http://www.leavenetwork.org/lp_and_r_reports, Pdf.

Additional reading
Ferrarini, T. (2006), Families, states and labour markets: Institutions, causes and consequences of family policy in post-war welfare states, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, ch 2 [Bp].
Kashen, J. (2015) Tech Companies Are Leading the Way on Paid Leave and the Rest of the Country Should Catch Up, New York City: The Century Foundation http://www.tcf.org/assets/downloads/Kashen_TechPaidLeave.pdf. [pp. 1-12]
OECD (2011), Doing Better for Families. OECD: Paris. Link, pdf.
DSP (2015), Budget 2016 press release, section on paternity benefit, http://www.welfare.ie/en/pressoffice/Pages/pr131015.aspx
Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) (2013) Right from the Start: Report of the Expert Advisory Group on the Early Years Strategy, Dublin: DCYA. Pdf.

lecture 11
Fleckenstein, T. (2010), 'Party Politics and Childcare: Comparing the Expansion of Service Provision in England and Germany', Social Policy & Administration, 44: 7, 789-807. Link, pdf.
O'Donoghue-Hynes, B. and Hayes, N. (2011), 'Who benefits from early childcare subsidy design in Ireland?', Journal of Poverty and Social Justice, 19: 3, 277-288. Link, pdf.

Additional reading
Campbell-Barr, V. and Coakley, A. (2014), 'Providing choice? A comparison of UK and Ireland's family support in a time of austerity', Journal of International and Comparative Social Policy. LINK
Wolfe, T., O'Donoghue-Hynes, B. and Hayes, N. (2013), 'Rapid Change Without Transformation: The Dominance of a National Policy Paradigm over International Influences on ECEC Development in Ireland 1995-2012', International Journal of Early Childhood, 45: 2, 191-205. Link, pdf.
Gallagher, A. (2014), 'The 'caring entrepreneur'? childcare policy and private provision in an enterprising age', Environment and Planning A, 46: 5, 1108-1123. Link, pdf.
OECD. (2004). OECD Thematic Review of Early Childhood Education and Care Policy in Ireland. Paris: OECD. pdf.
OECD (2011), Doing Better for Families. OECD: Paris. pdf.

Lecture 12
Clancy, P. and Kehoe, D. (1999), 'Financing Third-Level Students in Ireland', European Journal of Education, 34: 1, 43-57. Link:http://www.jstor.org/stable/1503428, pdf.

Additional reading
Flannery, D. and O'Donoghue, C. (2011), 'The life-cycle impact of alternative higher education finance systems in Ireland', Economic and Social Review, 42: 3, 237-270. LINK. PDF.
Denny, K. (2013), 'The effect of abolishing university tuition costs: Evidence from Ireland', Labour Economics, 26, 26-33. link, pdf.
Department of Education and Science (2003), Supporting Equity in Higher Education. Dublin: DES.
HEA (2015) Student Grant Recipients from a First Year Full-Time Undergraduate New Entrant Cohort for the Academic Year 2013/14 in HEA Funded Institutions. Dublin: HEA.
Denny, K., Doyle, O., McMullin, P. and O'Sullivan, V. (2014), 'Money, mentoring and making friends: The impact of a multidimensional access program on student performance', Economics of Education Review, 40, 167-182. Link

lectures 13-14
O’Connell, P. J. (2017) ‘Unemployment and Labour Market Policy’, in W. K. Roche, P. J. O'Connell and A. Prothero (eds): Austerity and Recovery in Ireland. Europe's Poster Child and the Great Recession. Oxford: Oxford University Press. [BS]
Eurofound (2017) In-work poverty in the EU. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union, Link. Focus on ch1+5

Additional reading
Daly, M. (2010) Ireland. In-work poverty and labour market Segmentation. A Study of National Policies. Brussels: European Commission. pdf. Focus on ch1+3.1
Goerne, A. (2011), 'A Comparative Analysis of In-Work Poverty in the European Union', in N. Fraser, R. Guitiérrez and R. Peña-Casas (eds.), Working Poverty in Europe. A Comparative Approach, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. [BS]
Collins, M.L. (2014), A Living Wage for Ireland: Some Considerations and Initial Estimates. NERI Working Paper, 2014/12. Dublin: NERI. http://www.nerinstitute.
Watson, D.; Maître, B.; Whelan, C.T. (2012), Work and Poverty in Ireland: An Analysis of the CSO Survey on Income and Living Conditions 2004-2010, Dublin: DSP, ESRI. ch 4, pp.59-66, ch 5 pp.77-84. [BS]
Andreß, H.-J. and Lohmann, H. (eds) (2008) The Working Poor in Europe: Employment, Poverty and Globalization. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.
Marx, I. and Nolan, B. (2012) In-Work Poverty. GINI Discussion Paper 51. Amsterdam: AIAS. www.gini-research.org, pdf.
Alber, J. (1981), 'Government Responses to the Challenge of Unemployment: The Development of Unemployment Insurance in Western Europe', in P. Flora and A. J. Heidenheimer (eds.), The Development of Welfare States in Europe and America, New Brunswick: Transaction. [BS]
Kangas, O. (2010), 'Work Accident and Sickness Benefits', in F. G. Castles, S. Leibfried, J. Lewis, H. Obinger and C. Pierson (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of the Welfare State, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

lecture 15
Muffels, R. and Wilthagen, T. (2013), 'Flexicurity: A New Paradigm for the Analysis of Labor Markets and Policies Challenging the Trade-Off Between Flexibility and Security', Sociology Compass, 7: 2, 111-122. Link, pdf.
Murphy, M. P. (2017) ‘Irish Flex-insecurity: The Post-crisis Reality for Vulnerable Workers in Ireland’, Social Policy & Administration 51 (2): 308-327. Link, pdf.

Additional reading
Heyes, J. (2013) ‘Flexicurity in crisis: European labour market policies in a time of austerity’, European Journal of Industrial Relations 19 (1): 71-86. Link, pdf.
Kelly, E.; McGuinness S.; O’ Connell P. J. (2011) What Can Active Labour Market Policies Do? ESRI RENEWAL SERIES PAPER 1.
McGuinness, S., O’Connel, P.J. and Kelly, E. (2014), 'The impact of training programme type and duration on the employment chances of the unemployed in Ireland', Economic and Social Review, 45: 3, 425-450. Link, pdf.
McGauran, A. M. (2013) Activation. NESC Secretariat Papers, No. 8. Dublin: NESC. [BS]
McGuinness, S., O’Connell, P.J., Kelly, E. and Walsh, J.R. (2011) Activation in Ireland: An Evaluation of the National Employment Action Plan, Dublin: ESRI Research Paper 20. Pdf.
Clasen, J. and Clegg, D. (2006), 'Beyond Activation: Reforming European Unemployment Protection Systems in Post-Industrial Labour Markets', European Societies, 8: 4, 527-553. Link, pdf.
Lodemel, I. and Moreira, A. (2014), Activation or Workfare? Governance and the Neo-Liberal Convergence, Oxford: Oxford University Press. esp. ch 11 [BS].
Viebrock, E. and Clasen, J. (2009), 'Flexicurity and welfare reform: a review', Socio-Economic Review, 7: 2, 305-331. Link.
Wilthagen, T., Muffels, R., Verschoor, J. and Bekker, S. (2014) Flexicurity: the way forward. Brussels: European Commission. Pdf.
Muffels, R., Crouch, C. and Wilthagen, T. (2014) ‘Flexibility and security: national social models in transitional labour markets’, Transfer: European Review of Labour and Research 20 (1): 99-114. Link, pdf.

lectures 16-18
Larragy, A. (2013) A Universal Pension for Ireland. Policy Research Series. Dublin: Social Justice Ireland. Pdf.
OECD (2014) OECD Reviews of Pension Systems: Ireland. Paris: OECD. Summary, Ch1, Ch 3. Link, pdf.

Additional reading
OECD (2013) Pensions at a Glance 2013: OECD and G20 Indicators. Paris: OECD. Executive Summary & Ch 7. Link, pdf.
European Commission The 2012 Ageing Report. European Economy 2, 2012. Ch 1 & 2.
Watson/Maitre (2013), see above, ch 4
European Commission (2010), Private pension schemes. Their role in adequate and sustainable pensions, Luxembourg: EC.
Barrett, A., Mosca, I. and Whelan, B. (2015) ‘How Well-Informed are Pension Scheme Members on Their Future Pension Benefits? Evidence from Ireland’, Journal of Aging & Social Policy 27 (4): 295-313. Link, pdf.
DSP (2016), National Pensions Framework - Changes to State Pension 2012-2028, accessed 14/12/16, http://www.welfare.ie/en/Pages/Changes%20to%20State%20Pension%202012-2028.aspx
O'Halloran, M. (2016) Embarrassing pensions motion defeat for Government. Irish Times 8/12/2016. http://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/oireachtas/embarrassing-pensions-motion-defeat-for-government-1.2897983

lecture 19
Hinrichs, K. (2000), 'Elephants on the move. Patterns of public pension reform in OECD countries', European Review, 8: 3, 353–378. Link, [BS].
Bonoli, G. und Palier, B. (2007), 'When Past Reforms Open New Opportunities: Comparing Old-age Insurance Reforms in Bismarckian Welfare Systems', Social Policy & Administration, 41(6), 555–573. Link, pdf.

Additional reading
Orenstein, M.A. (2011), 'Pension privatization in crisis: Death or rebirth of a global policy trend?', International Social Security Review, 64: 3, 65–80.
Lain, D., Vickerstaff, S. and Loretto, W. (2013), 'Review Article: Reforming State Pension Provision in ‘Liberal’ Anglo-Saxon Countries: Re-Commodification, Cost-Containment or Recalibration?', Social Policy and Society, 12: 1, 77–90.
Fahey, T. (2003), 'Is there a Trade-Off between Pensions and Home Ownership?: An exploration of the Irish case', Journal of European Social Policy, 13: 2, 159-173.

lecture 20
Barry, U. and Conlon, C. (2010) Elderly Care in Ireland – Provisions and Providers. UCD School of Social Justice Working Paper Series 10(1):1-34. Dublin: University College Dublin. pdf.
OECD (2011), Help Wanted? Providing and Paying for Long-Term Care, Paris: OECD. [ch 7 and executive summary]. Link, pdf.

Additional reading
Robinson, D.J., McGovern, E., Doorley, E., Hayden, C. und O'Shea, D. (2011), 'The Nursing Homes Support Scheme Act in Ireland – older persons’ views', European Geriatric Medicine, 2(3), 130-133.
OECD (2011): Ireland Highlights [see pdf]
Eurobarometer (2007) Health and long-term care in the European Union. Brussels: European Commission. [pp. 66+] Pdf.
Social Protection Committee und European Commission (2014), Adequate social protection for long-term care needs in an ageing society, Luxembourg: European Commission.

Lecture 21
Palier, B. (2019). Work, social protection and the middle classes: What future in the digital age? International Social Security Review, 72(3), pp. 113-133. doi:10.1111/issr.12218, pdf.
Schoukens, P., Barrio, A. & Montebovi, S. (2018). The EU social pillar:An answer to the challenge of the social protection of platform workers? European Journal of Social Security, 20(3), pp. 219-241. doi:10.1177/1388262718798393, pdf.

Additional Reading
Anderson, K. M. (2015). Social policy in the European Union. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Library, ebook. ch 2 p. 27-49, Ch 3
Leibfried, S. (2005) ‘Social Policy’, in H. Wallace and W. Wallace (eds): Policy-Making in the European Union. Oxford: Oxford University Press. [BS] Library
Taylor-Gooby, P. (2017) ‘Re-Doubling the Crises of the Welfare State: The impact of Brexit on UK welfare politics’, Journal of Social Policy 46 (4): 815-835. Link, pdf. [see also other articles in the Brexit Special Issue]
Greve, B. (2015) Welfare and the Welfare State. Present and Future. Oxon: Routledge. (ch 12). Library, ebook.
Clasen, J. (2007) ‘Comparative Social Policy and the European Union’, in J. Baldock, N. Manning and S. Vickerstaff (eds): Social Policy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 612-626. Library.
Falkner, G. (2010), 'European Union', in F. G. Castles, S. Leibfried, J. Lewis, H. Obinger and C. Pierson (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of the Welfare State, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 292-305. Library, DOI.
Obinger, H., Leibfried, S. and Castles, F. G. (2005) ‘Bypasses to a social Europe? Lessons from federal experience’, Journal of European Public Policy 12 (3): 545–571. Link, pdf.
Vanhercke B., Natali D. and Bouget D. (eds.) (2016) Social policy in the European Union: state of play 2016. Brussels: ETUI. Link, pdf. [check for the annual updates]
Taylor-Gooby, P. (2016) ‘The Divisive Welfare State’, Social Policy & Administration 50 (6): 712-733. Link, pdf.

Name Role
Dr Stephan Koeppe Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 31, 32, 33 Fri 10:00 - 10:50
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33 Thurs 13:00 - 13:50