Getting People into Work: What (if Anything) Can Justify Mandatory Activation of Welfare Recipients?
Anders Molander and Gaute Torsvik
Photo: Journal of Applied Philosophy
Journal of Applied Philosophy 32 (4) pp. 373-392
So-called activation policies aiming at bringing jobless people into work have been a central component of welfare reforms across OECD countries during the last decades. Such policies combine restrictive and enabling programs, but their characteristic feature is that enabling programs are also mandatory, and non-compliers are sanctioned. There are four main arguments that can be used to defend mandatory activation of benefit recipients. We label them efficiency, sustainability, paternalism, and justice. Each argument is analysed in turn. First we clarify which standards it invokes, thereafter we evaluate each argument according to its own standards and introduce competing normative concerns that have to be taken into account.