Welfare State and Welfare Regimes - Social Welfare Systems and Social Policy - Lecture Notes, Study notes for Social Welfare
proo31 August 2013

Welfare State and Welfare Regimes - Social Welfare Systems and Social Policy - Lecture Notes, Study notes for Social Welfare

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Social policy can be regarded as the study of the history, politics, philosophy, sociology, and economics of the social services. This lecture handout includes keywords such as Welfare State and Welfare Regimes, Welfare ...
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Welfare State and Welfare Regimes This lecture, we’ll discuss the concept of welfare state. In Hong Kong, the term carries negative meanings. It usually refers to the business persuasion regarding the generous welfare (in cash or services) provided by the government, which according to them, reduces people’s intention to work and induce dependence. This lecture hopes to clarify the meaning of the term and help you understand why it is considered so important by European countries (and by the social work profession) and how it comes into existence, as well as the challenges it faces today. The idea of the ‘welfare state’ is an ambiguous one. In some writing, it means little more than ‘welfare which is provided by the state’; in others, it stands for a developed ideal in which welfare is provided comprehensively by the state to the best possible standards. The term is used then, both as a form of description and as a normative argument (Spicker, 1995). An ideal model. The "welfare state" usually refers to an ideal model of provision,

where the state accepts responsibility for the provision of comprehensive and universal welfare for its citizens.

State welfare. Some commentators use it to mean "welfare provided by the state". This is the main use in the USA.

Social protection. In many "welfare states", social protection is not delivered by the state at all, but by a combination of independent, voluntary and government services. These countries are still usually thought of as "welfare states".

Source: http://www2.rgu.ac.uk/publicpolicy/introduction/state.htm Origin of the term In UK, the term, in its English form, appears to have come into common use in the late 1930s and 1940s. Ironically, the Beveridge Report, sometimes referred to as the blueprint for the welfare state, did not use the term.Titmuss called the Beveridge report an insurance revolution… Welfare revolution occurred during the liberal government in 1905-1914, Definition A system in which the government undertakes the chief responsibility for providing for the social and economic security of its population, usually through unemployment insurance, old age pensions, and other social-security measures; A social system characterized by such policies (Collins English Dictionary, 2000).

Asa Briggs (1961)A “welfare state” is a state in which organized power is deliberately used (through politics and administration) in an effort to modify the play of market forces in at least three directions – first, by guaranteeing individuals and families a minimum income irrespective of the market value of their property; second by narrowing the extent of insecurity by enabling individuals and families to meet certain “social

contingencies” (for example, sickness, old age, and unemployment) which lead otherwise to individual and family crisis; and third by ensuring that all citizens without distinction of status or class are offered the best standards available in relation to a certain agreed range of services (Briggs, 1961, p.228).

In a narrow sense, the welfare state may refer to state measures for the provision of key welfare services (often confined to health, housing, income maintenance and personal social services). Increasingly broadly, the welfare


state I also taken to define (1) a particular form of state, (2) a distinctive form of polity or (3) a specific type of society as defining a society in which the state intervenes within the processes of economic reproduction and distribution to reallocate life chances between individual and/or classes (Pierson, 1998). Historical perspectives The early systematic provision of welfare by the state occurred in Germany but the motivation was by then, to buy off the militancy of the labour movement at a time when the antagonism of labor against capital was very strong in many parts of Europe. Bismarck argued that if the state would only “show a little more Christian solicitude (care and concern) for the working-man”, then the social democrats would “sound their siren song in vain”. “The thronging to them will cease as soon as working-men see that the government and legislative bodies are earnestly concerned for their welfare” (Briggs, 1961, p.249, 250) Gradually, more politicians and scholars saw welfare provision under capitalism transformed its nature, making it a viable combination of efficiency (in economic production), liberty (individual pursuit) and equality. So, instead of controlling the state through revolution, it is also possible to control the state through election to provide welfare to the working people. Yet, another important concept about welfare is that it is a social right of the people. Just as eighteenth-century civil rights (freedom of meeting, for example, or of the press) were employed to ensure political rights (the rights to vote and its corollaries), so political rights were to be employed to secure social rights (Briggs, 1961, p.239). In USA, the “welfare state” was introduced in the inter-war era under the New Deal initiatives of Franklin Roosevelt Administration. Contributory social security system was introduced to

provide retirement protection for employees. “Homes, health, education and social security, these are your birthright”, exclaimed Aneurin Bevan1(Briggs, 1961, p.227), 1949 after the labor victory. John Locke some 300 years ago summarized man’s inalienable rights as life, liberty and property. The Second World War, which sharpened the sense of “democracy”, led to demands both for “tidying up” and for “comprehensiveness”. It encouraged

the move from “minima” to “optima”, at least in relation to certain specified services, and it made all residual paternalisms seem utterly inadequate and increasingly archaic (Briggs, 1961, p.257).

Attlee (British Prime Minister after the WWII) announced he would introduce the Welfare State outlined in the 1942 Beveridge Report. This included the establishment of a National Health Service in 1948 with free medical treatment for all. A national system of benefits was also introduced to provide 'social security' so that the population would be protected from the 'cradle to the grave'. The new system was partly built on the National Insurance scheme set up by Lloyd George in 1911. People in work still had to make contributions each week, as did employers, but the benefits provided were now much greater. (BBC)


1 Usually know as Nye Bevan (1897-1960) was a Welsh Labor politician and a socialist. He was the Secretary of State responsible for the formation of the National Health Service (NHS).


Welfare state in crisis2 (Challenges of neo-liberalism, welfare financing)

 Curbing public expenditure (but with limited effect)

 Raising fees for public services  Tightening up of eligibility for benefits  Privatizing many public services

 Shifting government’s role (from provider to an agent) (Arthur Gould, 1993)  [monetarist theory – government must control money supply]

Third Way (Antony Giddens, 2000, p. 50-54) (1) Accepts the logic of '1989 and after' (the death

of socialism) (2) Argues that the three key areas of power —

government, the economy, and the communities of civil society — all need to be constrained in the interests of social solidarity and social justice.

(3) Proposes to construct a new social contract, based on the theorem 'no rights without responsibilities'.

(4) Develop a wide-ranging supply-side policy, which seeks to reconcile economic growth mechanisms with structural reform of the welfare state (from welfare state to social investment state)

(5) Seeks to foster a diversified society based upon egalitarian principles (equal opportunity, new forms of exclusion at the top and bottom)

(6) Takes globalization seriously Why and how does welfare state come into existence? Briggs (1961) argues that there are five major factors affecting the development of the welfare state – 1) Basic transformation in the attitude towards poverty; 2) the detailed investigation of the “social contingencies” which directed attention to the need for particular social polices; 3) the close association between unemployment and welfare policy; 4) the development within market capitalism itself of “welfare” philosophies and practices; 5) the influence of working-class pressures on the content and tone of “welfare” legislation (Briggs, 1961, p.252). Pierson (2006) summarizes four major factors that contribute to the development of welfare states. 1) The impact of industrialization 2) Population growth and the changing social composition of population 3) The growth of nation states 4) The growth of political democracy/the rise of political citizenship Different worlds of welfare capitalism

Gøsta Esping-Andersen is a political scientist and author of many books on the subject. His primary focus in the field is on

2 See also a report by BBC on welfare reform in 2005 http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/4720727.stm


the welfare state and its place in capitalist economies. He is a professor at Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona, Spain and member of the Scientific Committee of the Juan March Institute (Madrid) (Wiki). According to Esping-Andersen the rise of welfare state cannot be fully explained by  the system/structuralist approach (industrialization, rise of modern bureaucracy, product

of capitalist mode of promotion)  the institutional approach – democratization, nation building/extension of citizenship  Esping-Andersen considers – working class mobilization (welfare are basically working

class agenda)/ coalition with other classes are very important too. Models of welfare Esping-Andersen classifies the welfare state régime types through looking at certain crucial elements – the degree of de-commodification (when a service is rendered as a matter of right, and when a person can maintain a livelihood without reliance on the market) and the welfare state to social stratification (whether it tends to diminishes class differences or strengthen existing ones).Esping-Andersen has described three main types of welfare régime:  corporatist régimes are work-oriented and based on individual contribution.  social democratic régimes favour universalist values.  liberal régimes tend to be residualist.

The grouping of particular countries tends to be unreliable, but the classification may help to understand some of the main patterns of provision. This table shows rates of economic exclusion in five countries. The blue bars show the proportions of poor people; the red bars the "poverty gap", how far those remaining fall below minimum standards. Social protection in the UK and Sweden is institutional; the UK covers less of its population, but the shortfall is not as great as in Sweden. France is solidaristic, but its performance has still secured coverage as good as the institutional welfare states. The German system is work oriented: it excludes some people who have not contributed, and it does not extend to those on the highest incomes. The system in the US has substantial residual elements, and social policy is often hostile to the poor.

(Poverty gap ratio is the mean distance separating the population from the poverty line (with the non-poor being given a distance of zero), expressed as a percentage of the poverty line.)


http://www.poverty.org.uk/l04/ah.png Degree of de-commodification Class-Status

Social Rights State Provision

Liberal (e.g. USA, UK, Australia)

Modest with strict entitlement rules Minimum

Dualsim (the poor relies on the state,

the rich on the market)

Conservative (Germany, Austria, France)

High/Selectivism High

Sharp differentiation (preservation of

traditional family & status)

Social Democratic (Scandinavia, Netherland)

High/Universalism High Little


More about the Social Democratic approach

Scandinavian-type welfare state – “broad public participation in various areas of economic and social life, the purpose of which is to promote economic efficiency, to improve the ability of society to master its problems, and to enrich and equalize the living conditions of the ability of individuals and families. In social policy, the cornerstone of the model is universalism.” (Erikson et al. 1987, p.vii) Social democratic – model prescribes “the welfare of the individual to be the social collective; all citizens to be equally entitled to a decent standard of living, and full social citizenship rights and status to be guaranteed unconditionally.” ( Esping-Andersen and Korpi, 1987, p.40) Three essential feature – a comprehensive social policy; a social entitlement principle that has been institutionalized (social rights); and social legislation that is solidaristic and universalist in character.  Global programmes are preferred to selective ones  Free or cheap education for all in publicly owned educational institutions with a

standard sufficiently high to discourage the demand for private schooling  Free or cheap health care on the same basis  Child allowances for all families with children rather than income-tested aid for poor

mothers  Universal old-age pensions, including pension rights for housewives and others who

have not been in gainful employment  General housing policies rather than “public housing” (Esping-Andersen and Korpi,

1987, p.vii-viii)


Note: Pension wealth refers to the multiple of average annual income. It can be understood as how many years of earning a person is expected to take as pension. Usually, women enjoy a longer life expectancy. Though their income might be lower than that of men, on average, an


individual woman on pension will take more months of pension and thus the total amount, i.e. pension wealth is larger than that of men. The figure thus takes into account of 1) the replacement rate and 2) life-expectancy. Criticisms of the Swedish model (The Economist Sept 2006)

The figure on the left suggests that measured by income per capital (PPP adjusted) fell from its peak to its lowest in the late 90s. It is on a upward trend since then, but Sweden as a whole still lacks behind the average OECD in-come per capita level. The figure in the middle shows that the public sector in Sweden, which spends a high percentage of GDP, is not efficient comparing to some major OECD countries. The figure on the right shows that the private sector contributes very little to the job creation in Sweden. Most jobs are in fact, created by the public sector. (Midgley, 2000) References Briggs, A. (1961). The welfare state in historical perspective. European Journal of Sociology,

2, 221-258. Midgley, J. (2000). The institutional approach to social policy. In J. Midgley, M. Tracy & M.

Livermore (Eds.), The handbook of social policy (pp. 365-376). Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications Inc.

Pierson, C. (1998). Beyond the welfare state? : the new political economy of welfare (2nd ed.). Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.

Pierson, C. (2006). Beyond the welfare state? : the new political economy of welfare (3rd ed.). Cambridge, UK ; Malden, MA: Polity.

Spicker, P. (1995). Social policy : themes and approaches. London: Prentice Hall. Gould, A. (1993). Capitalist Welfare Systems: A Comparison of Japan, Britain, and Sweden.

London: Longman. Giddens, A. (2000). The Third Way and its Critics. Cambridge: Polity Press.

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