This is the first major study of the implications of different welfare regimes for the experience of unemployment in Europe. It addresses three central questions. How far do such regimes protect unemployed people from poverty and financial hardship? Do they reduce or accentuate the tendencies for progressive marginalization from employment that may arise from motivational change, skill loss or the growth of discriminatory barriers? Finally, to what extent do they affect the social integration of unemployed people, in particular with respect to their social networks and psychological well-being?
The book is based on a major cross-cultural research programme funded by the European Union. In addition to systematic comparison of national data, it uses an important new data source-the European Community Household Panel-which provides directly comparable information for most of the EU countries.
The study shows that institutional and cultural differences have vital implications for the experience of unemployment. While welfare policies affect in an important way the pervasiveness of poverty, it is above all the patterns of family structure and the culture of sociability in a society that determine vulnerability to social isolation. The book concludes by developing a new perspective for understanding the risk of social exclusion.