August 17-19, 2009
Economic recessions generate intense tests of social programs. They highlight weaknesses in program structures that are less obvious during strong growth and employment. They force us to ask basic questions: Do we have the programs we need to respond when social needs are greatest? What stresses are being revealed by the high unemployment and economic disruption. Are we asking the right questions about the capacity of our current social programs? Are we well positioned to come out of this recession?
In the past, economic downturns have often transformed social policy debates. The depression of the 1930s reshaped attitudes to the role of social policy for a generation. While recessions since then have been less intense, they also have generated new evidence and new ideas, pinpointing reform needs, and reshaping old approaches. Will we learn from this experience? Does the experience shift the agenda, raising the priority of some issues? Will we be better prepared when the next recession comes?
QIISP 2009 focuses on the impact of the recession on our social programs. The program explores the international and domestic contours of the recession, asking how deep and long it is likely to be. The program then examines its general impact on the “welfare diamond,” examining pressures on the roles of the market, the family, governments and the voluntary sector. It also analyzes in greater depth the implications for vulnerable populations: unemployed adult workers, immigrants, youth and pensioners. The final session takes stock, asking how well we are responding, whether we are paralyzed by the intense economic pressure or whether we are adapting and improving our programs for the future.