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RPS 3 2017

È online il numero 3/2017 di Rps. Il fascicolo dedica la sezione monografica al futuro dei diritti sociali in Europa. Nella sezione Attualità si discute di politiche fiscali e welfare.

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Welcome in the rps magazine archive, this is made to let you find what you're looking for. You might use this pages to browse all the rps issues just by clicking on the arrows at the bottom of the page or you might search for a specifical issue going to the "indexes" section but you have the chance to look for a single article in the "article index" section. You can search inside all the rps contents just by clicking on the search button, there's a search engine in your language too.

Company welfare

Dimensions and dynamics in Italy and Europe

editor's note

Description

With no. 3/12, which analyses the characteristics of welfare in the workplace, Rps once again considers the future of Italy’s welfare system, examining in detail the sector of company welfare. The central section of this issue anticipates some of the results of research carried out by Ires and the Polytechnic University of the Marches on the same subject, while the other sections contain detailed studies of its main features in Italy and Europe, starting from an analysis of what is actually new, in terms both of extent and specific aspects. The result is an account of the elements of discontinuity between the present characteristics of occupational welfare and traditional social action on the part of employers as it manifested itself in Italy down to the 1960s. What emerges is how it is partly rooted in and maintained by the Italian system of industrial relations, and also how, at the moment, occupational welfare is not subject to proper public regulation. Other pieces deal with the idea of what is known as «second welfare» and analyse the phenomenon in other western countries. Finally, regional social policies are the focus of the two essays in the «off-topic» section.

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Matrices and origins

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The Social Protection of Labour in the Rhetoric and Practice of Industrial Relations
The relationship between the introduction and provision of social protection – or welfare – and the dynamics of industrial relations is quite intricate. The article offers a preliminary investigation of the different ways in which at different levels issues related to welfare programmes entered the rhetoric and practice of industrial relations. The passage from a phase of «competence specialization» and a phase of rupture and crisis of the previous equilibrium is discussed. In the former, a clear division of competences between the domain of the state – responsible for welfare provision – and of the social partners – responsible for the negotiation of labour terms and conditions – predominated in the strategies and practices of industrial relations. In the latter, the system of competences and tasks assigned the different actors started to become uncertain and was somewhat reshuffled, while welfare related issues invaded and permeated the public discourse of industrial relations.
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The Social Action of Companies in Contemporary Italian History
The article traces the development of employers’ paternalism and accompanying social action from the mid nineteenth century until the post-war period, bringing out the importance of occupational welfare, not only for the industrial history of Italy, but also for the creationand establishment of the welfare state. Along with the complexity of the markets, present entrepreneurial strategies are the result of a vision of the industrial system that is profoundly different from those of the past, which placed a healthy relation with the local context and community at the centre of their action. Today a company welfare in the original sense is unimaginable.
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Company welfare in Italy: backgrounds and profiles

Toward an Employment-Linked Welfare? Collective bargaining and Corporate Initiatives in Italy
In the light of the recent changes in Italian welfare – which has been affected by reductions and privatizations, and, as a result, is less and less able to provide adequate, universal protection – this essay gives the main results of a survey carried out by Ires and the Polytechnic University of the Marches on the characteristics of what is known as corporate welfare in a sample of more than 300 large Italian businesses. There emerges a widespread system of interventions, but one that is to a great extent dominated by supplementary health and pension funds, which have a limited capacity to deal with the so-called «new social risks». In addition, many of the measures of this kind are the by-products of national bargaining between the social partners.
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Contractually Agreed Welfare and Bilateralism
Following the profound changes that have affected the socioeconomic dimension and industrial relations, sectorial and corporate welfare and bilateralism have gradually assumed more central importance. In this context the essay investigates and reconstructs the main features of these welfare phenomena in Italy, which are only new in some respects. The central suggestion of the essay is that, while contractually agreed welfare arrangements, along with a new, widespread drive towards company welfare, can have some positive effects, particularly in protecting needs that otherwise go unanswered, they also risk weakening industrial relations, becoming tools that replace rather than complement public, universal welfare.
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The Role of Trade Unions in the Choices of Company Welfare
Corporate welfare is not in itself a novelty in the handling of human resources. Companies and unions have often introduced these questions to personnel policies, with the unions playing an active role through cooperation and bargaining. There has been a consolidation of this role through new policies for managing the labour force (in matters concerning dispute settlements rather than health and supplementary benefits), to the point that it has become increasingly institutionalized. However, when the unions have fewer members in a company, occupational welfare can be a way for companies to reduce the potential role of the unions in personnel policies. The article presents some case studies read in this light.
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Pension and Health Funds in Company Welfare
Based partly on an analysis of particular companies, the essay analyses the main characteristics of supplementary funds for pensions and health. Overall, funds are becoming more widespread in both sectors and, in particular, in the field of social security where the social partners have a stronger role. They offer the future possibility of serving as a second pillar of social security and health insurance, complementing the public system, apart from some exceptions such as longterm care. However, both the contribution systems and the services guaranteed for workers vary considerably, depending on the sector and the individual’s position in the firm. If these differences become more marked instead of being at least partially absorbed, then clear inequalities will be created between workers, and citizens in general, particularly if there is a reduction in national social and health security.
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Company Welfare and «New Social Risks»
The essay analyses the widespread welfare practices introduced by companies, with particular reference to measures designed for the so-called «new social risks». Faced with the socio-economic changes that have been affecting Italy for twenty years now (from increasing care needs to the importance of work-life balance, and the opening up of the labour market), Italy has for many years been notably slow in «recalibrating» its system of public welfare to deal with these changes. As a result of the uncertainty and hesitancy of public action, companies, workers and their representatives have been developing responses for some years, starting from collective bargaining (often de-centred), or unilateral choices by companies. This is increasing, and is starting to have a significant role both inside companies and in the functioning of public welfare. These changes present a series of challenges that present both positive aspects as well as genuine problems.
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Interview

Adriano Olivetti and the «Social Services»: Unresolved Questions for today. Interview with Luciano Gallino
The interview describes the features of Olivetti’s company welfare, particularly in the two decades following the war, against the background of post-war reconstruction, the «economic miracle» and the birth of the welfare state in the new republic of Italy. It demonstrates Adriano Olivetti’s political and cultural vision and his strategies for renewing the production structure and the economic and social vocation of the business, which were inseparable from the demands for worker participation and for improving the living standards of employees. This framework is then related to the present trends of company welfare, suggesting reflections on the role of business, the benefits for workers, the implications for industrial relations and the relation with public welfare.
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Topic. Company welfare in second welfare

«Second Welfare» and Companies: Connection and Perspectives
With the recent economic crisis exacerbating the retrenchment of the welfare state, a number of new figures have entered the welfare arena, leading to a new «welfare mix» or – as it has been called in the Italian debate – «second welfare». Among these new figures, the contribution of business has become a primary issue. Although a growing number of large and often multinational companies in Italy set up welfare systems in order to offer benefits and services to their employees, the Italian industrial system is made up of SMEs – small, medium and even micro enterprises – that cannot afford the costs of goods and services provided to the workforce. Other social actors – such as trade unions and employers organizations, local and regional governments, and private companies and consultants – have started to study and implement «territorial» networks for welfare in order to favour SMEs through the sharing of costs and services as well as to advocate «service infrastructuring» at local level.
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Company Welfare: Institutional Profiles
«Company welfare» has many different forms that can be analyzed from different perspectives. Juridically, it can include contractually guaranteed security, supplementary social security (health and otherwise), free assistance, non-monetary compensation, and even the content and context of the work. We need to set about building a public policy for company welfare that aims at linking total-reward company policies, horizontal subsidiarity and bilateralism.
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Usa and European countries: experiences and analyses

Cross-National Perspectives on Firm-Level Family Policies: Britain, Germany, and the Us
With a shift in the political debate to more market-driven social policy approaches during the past decade, politicians in a number of European countries have argued that employers should take on greater responsibilities in the provision of social policy. Corporations have indeed expanded their provision of family policies over the past decade. The puzzle to be addressed in this chapter is: why do employers get involved? Looking at Britain, Germany, and the Us, our findings show that for the overwhelming majority of employers engaged in firm-level family policies their main aim is to recruit and retain (highly) skilled employees. However, the industrial sector and the national political economy are key context conditions, influencing employers’ agency in the domain of family policies.
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Social risk protection in collective agreements: Evidence from the Netherlands
To what extent can collective bargaining compensate for a decline in or absence of welfare state protection against social risks? In this article, we use a comprehensive collective agreement database to analyse social risk coverage in the Netherlands from 1995 to 2009. We compare two forms of social risk, disability and work–life arrangements, analysing the share of collective agreements that offer these arrangements across time. Our results show that collective bargaining differs across the public and private sector but is similar at different levels of bargaining. In general, our findings demonstrate that collective agreements often compensate for declining welfare state coverage or a lack of state provision. As a result, the findings presented here suggest occupational welfare, in the form of collective bargaining, is an important component of welfare provision that is oftentimes overlooked in the current welfare state literature.
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Off topic

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Welfare Cuts: Trends and Characteristics of Regional Social expenditure
This article aims to analyze recent trends in regional social expenditure in the face of the progressive cuts in welfare taking place at central level. Concentrating on social assistance policies, it highlights similarities and differences between five regions. Taking up the most recent debate, it also emphasizes the positive aspects as well as those that require particular attention in the context of a process aimed at decentring to the regions the main welfare programmes currently handled by the state.
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Income Distribution in the Italian Regions and Influence of Equivalence Scales
In income-distribution analyses and in most selective welfare policies the family is regarded as the most appropriate unit for evaluating individual living standards. There are, however, methodological problems in comparing the incomes of families of differing size and composition: the incomes of differently structured units are made comparable by equivalence scales, but there is no clear agreement in the literature as to which is the most appropriate scale. Different scales attribute different living standards to units according to their size, making it more or less likely that they will end up near the bottom of the distribution and satisfy the requirements for being able to receive selective welfare transfer payments. There is, therefore, a wellfounded possibility that a choice that seems secondary and purely technical, like that of the equivalence scale, can modify the relative position of families of different sizes and, as there are structural differences in the diffusion of different family types in Italian regions, the average economic conditions of those residing in the different areas.
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Features

OBSERVATORY EUROPE
Observatory Europa. Periodical Note of Information on the Main News Concerning the Eu’s Social Action
Making the decisions of the European Council and the Eurozone’s heads of state and governments in June 2012 become a reality will be a long and difficult process. The proposed measures aim to create a banking and fiscal Union without first constructing a political Union. Meanwhile, the conditions of access to the financial markets for certain countries like Spain and Italy are worsening, while Germany benefits, among other things, from loans at practically zero interest rate. In the face of such a problematic situation, many are betting on the collapse of the Euro, despite the proliferation of speeches on its irreversibility from leaders of the European institutions, above all the President of the European Central Bank, which is a genuine institution of the Union even though it has no «political role», as its President recalled in a letter published in the German press (Die Zeit) on 29 August 2012. The social protests caused by the austerity measures are still swelling, without, however, modifying the conviction of the European institutions that the «neo-liberal» structural reforms they are requesting are an essential condition.
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Working poor

Characteristics, policies, effects on pensions

Description

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Why deal with working poor? One might say that those without a job are much worse off, particularly in a country like Italy where there continue to be widespread gaps in the system of social protection and where there is no safety net. But it is difficult to set up hierarchies of disadvantages, above all when various factors come together: how, for example, do we evaluate the situation of a low-paid worker who might be a little better off than someone without a job, but who earns his wage in working conditions that are dangerous or demeaning and sometimes with hours of work that seriously restrict the possibility of a family life? The new number of RPS tackles the problem from various points of view, first of all focusing on the dimensions and characteristics of working poor, in Italy above all, describing and evaluating specific corrective policies. The first section offers five contributions from economists who analyse the incidence and characteristics of lworking poor in the framework of the progress of wages, both comparatively and in Italy. The second and third sections are wholly given over to the subject of policies to tackle poverty.

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Italy and Oecd countries. Working poor and pensioners: economy labour market wages

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Market Retribution in Oecd Countries
This work aims to describe the course of salaries in the main Oecd countries during the last few decades. It considers both the dynamics of income levels and differentials. The second part of the work considers the characteristics of low-paid workers in some European countries and those of workers whose family income is at poverty level.
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Keywords: salaries :: inequality :: working poor ::

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The «White Witch» and Elusive Inequality: Salaries in Italy
The article offers an integrated year-by-year reading of the recent development of salaries in Italy, in relation both to gross incomes by contract, and «actual» («market») ones. The salient fact is the immobility of real gross earnings since the early 1990s. There are, however, some nuances to this general picture as regards the macro-areas of the economy (industry, private services, public administration). The inequality which increased in the first decade of this century is not the traditional inequality related to gender, qualifications and age. What have increased are the differentials in working hours, type of contract and area. Salary inequality is also «elusive» in Italy in structural terms, from the point of view of international comparisons. In fact, the relatively high incidence of independent work, both unofficial and in small companies, are all elements that tend to «cut the tails» of the distribution curve of salaries in statistical representations. The work ends by describing some links between the questions of income, tax and competitiveness.
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The Working Poor in Italy: How many there are, who they are, how poor they are
Using the It-Silc figures for the period 2004-2008 this article is one of the first attempts to quantify and describe the phenomenon of the working poor in Italy. It estimates the incidence and significance of the phenomenon and the main determinants of both with reference to types of poor workers: a. individuals with income from their work below the threshold b. workers with a disposable family income below the threshold considered in relation to three different poverty thresholds: 40-50-60% of the average wage. The article estimates a headcount ratio of around 12,8% in the five years 2004-2008 with income below the threshold of 60% of average income, equal to 9000 euro gross per year. The poverty gap index estimated is equal to 27% of the threshold (around 2000 euro gross per year). Working hours being equal, women, immigrants, fixed-term workers and the young are those most at risk of poverty. For the young it is estimated that, on average, the likelihood of emerging from poverty is significantly lowered only around the age of 33.
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The Early Career Years: Atypical Jobs, Poorly Paid and with Low Contributions. The Evidence of a Panel of Italian Workers
The problems concerning the vulnerability of younger workers are usually only evaluated by observing how many of them at any given moment are unemployed or employed with short-term contracts, in this way failing to analyse both whether their vulnerability also depends on low pay, and whether situations of this kind persist over time or are transitory. This article uses an innovative databank that makes it possible to observe some work histories in Italy involving a wide range of individuals, who are followed from their entry into the labour market down to more recent years, and investigates these aspects, presenting original results regarding the employment and salary dynamics characteristic of the early years of career, evaluating in particular the transitions between different employment states, the frequency of low-salary periods or unemployment, and the adequacy of the sum of contributions so far paid into the public pensions system
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Italy. From Workers to Impoverished Pensioners: Welfare Protection Measures
This contribution aims to describe the current state of the law in relation to support for poor pensioners, supply elements of analysis that can identify the typology of future poor pensioners, and advance proposals for reforming welfare measures for future pensioners, those who will be totally contributory. The analysis reveals that situations of suffering and economic deprivation will be concentrated among workers who at the age of 70 will have accumulated fewer than 30 years of contributions. Welfare measures could usefully be reformed, extending contribution payments to all workers in periods of unemployment. In addition, the principle of enhancing contributions made could be restored. That principle was completely eliminated for poor pensioners following the overlapping of different measures over the years.
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Keyword

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Work and Inquality
The inequality that is created in the labour market explains a very high proportion of the overall inequality in disposable incomes. Starting from this observation, the article presents a summary of the characteristics of inequality in incomes from labour, partly with a view to verifying, in a perspective of inequality, if the functioning of this market complies with what is theorized in the main theoretical approaches, or if there are significant divergences, with potentially important consequences for the characteristics and acceptability of inequality as well as for the planning of more effective policies to combat it.
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Lecture

A Bit Rich. Calculating the Real Value of the Professions for Society. A Report by Nef (New Economic Foundation)
After an introduction on the extent and development of income inequalities and a short summary of some principles of Ricardo’s theory of wage fixing and Marx’s of surplus value, what follows – kindly made available to us by the authors and the British Nef research centre – analyses a series of widespread economic and cultural myths behind the social legitimization of wage inequalities. In examining each of the ten myths, the article considers various professions that have very different retributions and social consideration, exemplifying the myth in question. In conclusion, the authors suggest a list of guidelines and possible measures that would reduce the disparity in consideration and the inequalities in wages.
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The phenomenon: sociological analyses and European policies

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The Working Poor. A Review of Sociological Studies
The article offers to describe the main lines of the question of the working poor, dealing with some interpretations, identifying different perspectives and drawing attention to some important elements of analysis chosen from the literature on the subject. The research examined shows the complexity and multidimensional nature of the phenomenon. It is the co-presence of several risk factors, at micro and macro level, that generates working poverty both directly and indirectly. Finally, the article argues for the social significance and great relevance of the subject and suggests it be made a specific object of empirical research.
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Keywords: labour market :: poverty :: vulnerability ::

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Income Support for Poor Workers. A Review of the Main Measures used in the Eu
The article deals with so-called in-work benefits, or employment conditional benefits: income-support measures intended for working poor. They are programmes aimed both at reducing the poverty of workers and/or their families, in particular those with children, redistributing resources towards low-income classes, and also encouraging employment. Starting from the literature on the subject, the article first reviews the programmes of this kind in European countries, and then examines income-support measures in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Belgium and France. It concentrates in particular on the type of benefits, the beneficiaries, conditions of eligibility and their main characteristics.
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Working poor. Income-support policies

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Income Support for Poor Workers: A Self-Evident Measure of Social Justice?
In these last decades, in-work benefits have been widely adopted in many Oecd countries, supported by a quasi-unanimous consensus as if their justifications were substantially self-evident. Italy shows various shortcomings on this front, even though not being immune from in-work poverty. On the contrary, working poor risk to increase in the current economic situation. An evaluation of in-work benefits, thus, appears useful in order to inform future policy choices. Focusing on the evaluation of the principles of social justice that could justify such policies, the article discerns three possible blocs of motives. Acknowledging the plurality of motives is important also because, depending on the choice made, the implications for policy design could vary.
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Income Support for Poor Workers, from the Point of View of Efficiency
This article is a contribution to the literature studying the possible tools for combating poverty. After tracing the main lines of «Making work pay» (Mwp) schemes, there is an analysis of the main features of Earned income tax credit (Eitc). The aim is to clarify how Eitc, which aims to redistribute wealth, also determines responses from economic agents that have a strong effect on efficiency. The work brings out how, on the basis of the theory of optimum taxation, the Mwp schemes can have effects in terms of efficiency in two different ways. The first concerns the risks linked to the creation of inefficiency traps (inactivity, unemployment, poverty), while the second concerns the contrasting effects of Eitc in relation to the extensive margin (being part of the labour market or not) and the intensive margin (variation in hours worked). The possibility of being able to reconcile redistribution and efficiency is still an open debate, useful for guiding the preparation of optimum policies of income support.
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A Revision of Income Tax to Stimulate the Labour Market
There is widespread agreement as to the desirability of lowering the actual marginal tax rates imposed on low work incomes, both for redistributory reasons (low income support and reduction of the growing gap in primary distribution), and to encourage job supply, which is regarded as particularly reactive for low income levels, especially for women and those in southern Italy. Given the stringent budget constraints, we can imagine a moderate rethinking of the rates (slight reduction of the first three and slight increase of the last two), as well as a less marked decrease in work allowances, compensated by a halving of other allowances. The results show an overall easing of 1 billion, with noticeable benefits both for low and medium incomes, and for the actual marginal rates, which would go down 4 points for incomes up to 15,000 euros a year.
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Off topic

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Active Labour Policies in Western Europe: Conceptions and Development
The objective of this article is to provide an account of the development of active labour market policy in six western European countries, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, France, Italy and the Uk. It shows that active labour market policies are not entirely a new idea, and that attempts to intervene directly in the functioning of the labour market have happened as early as in the 1950s. However, the shape taken by these interventions has changed over time. In general, one can say that policy does follow changes in labour market problems. However, the adaptation of policy is generally slow. In addition, political factors may accelerate or slow down the pace of the reorientation.
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Features

Observatory Europa
Observatory Europa. Periodical Note of Information on the Main News Concerning the Eu’s Social Action
Recent months have been marked by the desire to further strengthen the coordination of economic and budgetary policy in the Second European Semester. The other significant feature has been the renegotiation of the treaty that set up the European Stability Mechanism (Esm) and the movement towards an international treaty between the member states of the euro zone. At the same time, the member states of the Union are trying to define a development plan that will go beyond rigour, underlining the importance of investments for the young. The few measures in the social field ate linked to a re-launch of growth. These include the White Book on pensions, the declaration of the Council of Ministers of Labour and Social Policies (Epsco) and the conclusion of the tri-partite social summit. In this number we shall also see some novelties in social security, in particular concerning the posting of workers and the coordination of the rights of migrant workers. One final point concerns the action of the existing international organizations.
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