Informations and abstract
Keywords: Covid-19 pandemic, social policy, Italy, welfare state, critical juncture
The Covid-19 pandemic had a strong impact on the Italian Welfare State. This article introduces the thematic Focus dedicated to the analysis of changes incurred in the Italian cash benefit system during the pandemic crisis. It deals with two types of impacts. Firstly, the article looks at the «social impact» of emergency measures in terms of income inequality, poverty and access to social rights. Secondly, it examines the «institutional impact» by focusing on how the emergency measures have affected the Italian reform agenda in the domain of cash transfers (unemployment benefits, minimum income schemes and family benefits). The main argument is that the Italian government’s responses to the pandemic crisis are neither necessary nor sufficient conditions to policy change. By contrast, they can be interpreted as «permissive conditions» that altered the underlying context by increasing the potential for divergence. Nevertheless, further research is needed to better understand the existence of «productive conditions» that can open a new «critical juncture» in the Italian Welfare State.