The labour market, the welfare state and the family: Has the focus of the welfare triangle as supporter of young adults changed?
Department of Social Policy University of Helsinki Helsinki, Finland
Young adults live in the society where improved technology and communication together with globalization have changed the structure of the labour market. Shift to this knowledge-based society has influenced on young adults? labour market transitions and situation. First of all, transition to labour force has postponed because of increasing importance of education. Secondly, despite of increasing skill levels, the education does not guarantee the job. Thirdly, the number of atypical employment, for example, part-time, temporary and shift work has become more common. More widely reviewed, these changes in the circumstances together with changes in family structure are related to the concept of new social risks.
Increasing insecurity in the labour markets and retrenchments in welfare state programs are raising the question if the focus of the welfare triangle as supporters of young adults has changed, also in the Nordic countries. In the article is examined the ways in which Finnish welfare state supports young adults in their needs that stem from changes in the labour market and its functions, and how certain social benefits and services, which are related to these needs, have changed in Finland after 1990s regression. The main research question is: Has the focus of the welfare triangle as supporter of young adults changed?
The paper concentrates on two needs of young adults; economic security while young adults are partly or wholly out of labour market and child care services. According to results, it seems that especially those young adults who live on basic security, e.g. labour market subsidy, basic unemployment or student financial aid, are in a vulnerable economic position because these benefits and allowances have substantially fallen behind the earned-income after 1990s regression. Finnish parents have an extensive, under school age, children?s day-care-system which helps them to combine work and family life perhaps easier than in many other European countries. However, there is still need for more flexible child-care arrangements among parents with atypical employment and for school-age children. It can be argued that the Finnish welfare state has tried to move the focus of welfare producer more to the family or the labour market.