The persistence into the 1980s of low growth and high unemployment, compounded by the aging populations, has obliged both poor and relatively prosperous countries to make cuts in welfare systems.
By 1990, Germany pensioners were required to make a 5% contribution to what had been free medical insurance; indexation changes brought pensions down 5 to 6% in real income compared to 1979. Unemployment benefits had also been cut for workers without children - from 68% to 63% of total salary in the first year, and from 58% to 56% in subsequent years. In the UK, health spending fell for the elderly, the handicapped and the mentally ill. Housing benefits and free hot school meals, except those for the poorest, were also being trimmed. The government of France was been forced into an austerity programme that meant new private contributions to social security and restrictions on unemployment benefits. The budget for the costly state hospital system had been 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.
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