The modern welfare state is not able to deliver its services equitably, partly due to the inherent problem that the provision of social services creates the demand for them. Therefore social services to the aged, the disabled, to parentless children, to the sick, to the handicapped, to the unemployed and others, are overwhelmed by applicants' numbers. In addition, there are the inevitable bureaucratic inefficiencies that create distortions and slowdowns in the distribution of services. Other factors of a sinister, if not criminal, nature are corruption among civil servants, and discrimination against applicants based on ethnicity, language, age, religion, political party, gender or other bases. Government policy may also be to erode public welfare in order to save money for militarization.
It is reckoned that there have been more than 50 changes in benefits for the unemployed in the UK over the decade up to 1993, with the cuts generally larger for those on the lowest incomes. The real value of the unemployment benefit for a married couple with two children had fallen by nearly 20% between 1979 and 1990. Benefit has been withdrawn from 16 and 17-year olds and income support for 18-25 year olds reduced.
The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential is a collaboration between UIA and Mankind 2000, started in 1972. It is the result of an ambitious effort to collect and present information on the problems with which humanity is confronted, as well as the challenges such problems pose to concept formation, values and development strategies. Problems included are those identified in international periodicals but especially in the documents of some 60,000 international non-profit organizations, profiled in the Yearbook of International Organizations.
The Encyclopedia includes problems which such groups choose to perceive and act upon, whether or not their existence is denied by others claiming greater expertise. Indeed such claims and counter-claims figure in many of the problem descriptions in order to reflect the often paralyzing dynamics of international debate. In the light of the interdependence demonstrated among world problems in every sector, emphasis is placed on the need for approaches which are sufficiently complex to encompass the factions, conflicts and rival worldviews that undermine collective initiative towards a promising future.
Non-profit, apolitical, independent, and non-governmental in nature, the UIA has been a pioneer in the research, monitoring and provision of information on international organizations, international associations and their global challenges since 1907.