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Decentralization of the French welfare state: from 'big bang' to 'muddling through'

  • This article analyses the decentralization of the French welfare state focusing on the transfer of the Revenu minimum d’insertion (RMI) welfare benefit to the departments in 2003 and 2004. We map and explain the effects of the reform on the system and performance of the subnational provision of welfare tasks. To evaluate the impact of decentralization on the RMI-related action of the departments, we carry out a qualitative document analysis and use data from two case studies. The RMI decentralization offers an exemplary insight into the incremental implementation of French decentralization. We find many unintended effects in terms of the performance and outcome of the subnational welfare provision. This is traced back to the combining of institutional and policy reforms and the inadequate translation of high political expectations into an inadequate action programme both resulting in excessive demands on the local actors. Points for practitioners The decentralization of public tasks is associated with high expectations in termsThis article analyses the decentralization of the French welfare state focusing on the transfer of the Revenu minimum d’insertion (RMI) welfare benefit to the departments in 2003 and 2004. We map and explain the effects of the reform on the system and performance of the subnational provision of welfare tasks. To evaluate the impact of decentralization on the RMI-related action of the departments, we carry out a qualitative document analysis and use data from two case studies. The RMI decentralization offers an exemplary insight into the incremental implementation of French decentralization. We find many unintended effects in terms of the performance and outcome of the subnational welfare provision. This is traced back to the combining of institutional and policy reforms and the inadequate translation of high political expectations into an inadequate action programme both resulting in excessive demands on the local actors. Points for practitioners The decentralization of public tasks is associated with high expectations in terms of the effects on the performance of public services and public governance on the subnational levels. For an in-depth measure the range of administrative performance and political systems effects should be taken into account. We propose a five-dimensional scheme allowing for the determination of decentralization effects on the resource input to and the operative output of subnational public services, on the horizontal coordination between subnational task holders and the affected non-public stakeholders, on the vertical intergovernmental coordination, and on the democratic accountability of subnational authorities.show moreshow less

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Metadaten
Author:Sabine KuhlmannGND, Renate Reiter
DOI:https://doi.org/0.1177/0020852315583194
ISSN:0020-8523
ISSN:1461-7226
Parent Title (English):International Review of Administrative Sciences
Publisher:Sage
Place of publication:London
Document Type:Article
Language:English
Date of first Publication:2016/06/28
Year of Completion:2016
Publishing Institution:Universität Potsdam
Release Date:2017/05/31
Tag:France; decentralization; incremental reform; welfare state
Volume:82
Issue:2
First Page:255
Last Page:272
Organizational units:Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaftliche Fakultät / Sozialwissenschaften
Dewey Decimal Classification:3 Sozialwissenschaften / 34 Recht / 340 Recht
Publication Way:Open Access
Licence (German):License LogoKeine Nutzungslizenz vergeben - es gilt das deutsche Urheberrecht