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A Comparative Analysis of the Welfare States of Germany, Sweden, and the United States

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  1. What is the Welfare State?
  2. Welfare-State Regimes
  3. The Commodification of Labor
  4. Political Structure as a Cause of the Welfare-State
  5. Current Welfare Policies and Social Stratification

A welfare-state is a state in which organized power is used to provide social services to a society that cannot provide these things for itself through market-based transactions. Studying the welfare-states of Germany, Sweden and the United States will provide us a valuable perspective in understanding how the state's role in a capitalist democracy affects the security, safety and overall well-being of all its citizens. The following paper seeks to examine how the welfare-states in these three nations have evolved and how the differences in their structures have impacted the socio-economic makeup of each modern society. One must acknowledge that the welfare-states of Germany, Sweden and the United States are embodied in the ideologies of three distinct welfare regimes namely the conservative regime, the social-democratic regime and the liberal regime. The ideals of these three welfare-states differ fundamentally and it is essential to our analysis to understand how and why they have historically emerged.

[...] Political Structure as a Cause of the Welfare-State The political structure of the United States was officially formed in 1789 with the ratification of the U.S. Constitution. The creation of the Constitution was a lengthy process that was strewn with frequent disagreements and consequently with various unjustified political concessions. Because of this, the U.S. Senate and the Electoral College both became bodies of disproportionate representation for reasons not based on ideological calculus, but rather for the sake of arbitrary means of compromise. [...]

[...] It is on these fundamental ideals that the current liberal welfare regime in the United States is founded upon, where the poor are stigmatized as being lazy and the ideals of competition and free- markets are deeply embedded in the roots of both society and government. Conversely, the conservative ideal emerged in opposition to free- market democracy, largely as a reaction to the French Revolution and the Paris Commune (Esping-Anderson, 10). The conservative welfare regime was therefore founded on the principles of maintaining an orderly class structure that was complacently hierarchical. [...]

[...] Beginning in 1871, Germany was united under the leadership of Otto Von Bismarck and a parliamentary government was formed which was known as the Reichstag. This system consisted of six major political parties the Conservative Party, the Free Conservative Party, the National Liberal Party, the Progressive Party, the Center Party, and the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD). In an attempt to solidify state power, Bismarck vehemently oppressed the Roman Catholic Church throughout the 1870's, but the result was a strengthened Center Party that successfully resisted him and reinforced the authority of the Church (U.S. [...]

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