CAIRN-INT.INFO : International Edition

Avoiding the alternative between the convergence and the resilience of welfare regimes, the French reform of providing specific assistance to dependent people took a unique and firm direction. Understanding the reform developed at the crossroads of social protection and decentralization issues requires the study of reciprocal influences between the challenges and issues related to solidarity and those related to decentralizing power to the French Departments. On the one hand, the reform strengthened the prerogatives of a “welfare Department” whose action increasingly reaches beyond traditional frameworks of social assistance. On the other hand, in keeping with the logics of decentralization promoting a less administrative and more personalized form of intervention, the reform also reflects a State strategy of transferring increasingly costly policy programs to local governments. This financial instrumentalization ultimately represents the price paid by the French Departments to preserve their existence.


  • decentralization
  • departments
  • long term policy
  • path dependency
  • policy change
  • welfare state
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