French Welfare Reform in Comparative Perspective
Since the 1970s, the French welfare system has been reformed in three distinct ways : reducing social security deficits by increasing employer and employee social contributions ; controlling spending through retrenchment of social programs ; transforming the system’s foundations through institutional change. First attempts at reforming the social insurance system were blocked in part by that system’s own institutions. But under European Union constraints, French governments have managed to negotiate measures that reduce social benefits by sharpening the separation between the worlds of social insurance and national solidarity. Institutional reform was only marginal at first, and based on ambiguous and in some cases contradictory consensus. However, such reform is now working to further what has become a general process of “dualizing” the French welfare system.