Here Cato’s Michael Tanner explains how in the United States welfare spending has grown faster than in any country in Europe except Ireland, Spain and Portugal. The welfare-centric Obama administration could learn a lot from Australia.
How bad have things become? The British newspaper the Telegraph recently looked at the growth in welfare spending in industrialized nations and found that such spending (including health-care and pension programs) had grown faster in the United States since 2000 than in any country in Europe except Ireland, Spain, and Portugal.
Australia: Disability benefits have exploded in the United States over the past decade. Since 2000, the number of people receiving Social Security Disability has increased by almost 60 percent, while spending has increased by 140 percent.
The Abbott government in Australia is planning to introduce extensive reforms, including time limits for some disability payments and greater efforts to move recipients into jobs where possible. Other recipients will be shifted from disability payments to other programs, which frequently pay lower benefits.
Australia is also another country that is reforming its unemployment system, planning, for example, to end provisions that allow unemployed workers to decline a job that is more than 90 minutes from their home. And Australia will strengthen work requirements for other welfare programs as well.
That is, in fact, a common thread among these multinational reforms: the primacy of work as an alternative to welfare. As Australia’s Social Services Secretary Kevin Andrews puts it, “Work is the best form of welfare.”
Read more here.