When the newly unified Germany implemented in 1883 the first health insurance system, it paved the way for further moves towards extensive provision of public welfare for workers, but it also introduced a substantive change concerning the relationship between the state and the citizens. Basically the role of the state started to be understood and discussed in terms of social rights and citizenship. As pointed by Pierson (2004, 103), public welfare became a benefit of full citizenship. If the industrial and capitalist countries developed throughout the 20th century different forms and schemes of welfare state (Esping-Andersen 1999; Pierson 2004), the success and the legitimacy of social welfare became increasingly important over time whatever the country and the scope of state intervention. Over the past thirty years many scholars and international organizations have however described the rising financial and demographic difficulties of welfare states (O'Connor 1973 and World Bank 2004 both in Pierson 2004).
Although Esping-Anderson (1999) only states in his typology the universality of the Social Democratic model, the social security systems of Conservative welfare states also rely on this principle: beyond the features of etatism, corporatism and familialism, each citizen has the right and the possibility to access social benefits. I will thus focus on the challenge that conservative welfare states such as France and Germany are facing concerning the universality of access to welfare security on the basis of social citizenship.
[...] My position, in this respect, is that the conservative welfare states shouldn't give up the principle of universal citizenship. Policy choices are more ideological than based on the current state of affairs, and whatever the circumstances, the political speeches of pragmatism and necessity often prevail on public debates. As regards the economic sustainability of conservative welfare states, other factors such as growth and employment have to be reckoned with (Boyer 2000, Pierson 2004). Basically the issue of social citizenship raises above all the question of a new social contract -whether the individuals are responsible for their situation and deserve it or whether the state has the duty through economic and political choices to ensure their security. [...]
[...] In this respect I truly believe that conservative welfare states have to find out their own way of adaptation within the continuously changing economic and political world order. References Andersen, Jenny (2005) ‘Investment or cost? The Role of the Metaphor of Productive Social Policies in Welfare State Formation in Europe and the US 1850-2000. Paper to the World Congress in Historical Science. University of Upsala. Bottomore, Tom and T.H. Marshall (1992) Citizenship and Social Class. London: Pluto Press Boyer Robert (2002) there a welfare state crisis? [...]
[...] But universal citizenship as a practice is part of the collective identity and depends on a social contract between the citizens: defining what is acceptable belongs thus to public debates. But what can the conservative welfare states nowadays afford? The economic advantages and opportunities of the conservative welfare states Economic policies as ideological and biased choices The formulation of Marshall' universalism in the aftermath of the Second World War is indeed strongly related to the belief that full employment and economic growth would finance and sustain the universal availability of welfare benefits. [...]
[...] The advantage of universal citizenship is that all the people can access to welfare benefits whatever the problem they face. In France for instance, the social insurance based on progressive waged contributions from employee and employers follow the principle of horizontal solidarity which means equality of access for everybody. In the case of unemployment, if the citizen does not find a job after 30 month, he can receive the benefits of a solidarity fund Allocation spécifique de solidarité. The liberals criticize particularly this mechanism of assistance on the ground that it causes numerous abuses. [...]
[...] Although Camdessus (1998) states that these reforms only concern the design of benefits and don't go against the traditional social objectives, the decrease of benefits, the rise of charges, the implementation of selective criteria undoubtedly challenge the historical mission of conservative welfare states. Can these countries still afford universal citizenship and generous benefits? With regard to the budget deficits, liberal experts state through the metaphor of the household that the state can not spend beyond its financial capacity and has to think about the next generation of people that will have to pay the debt interests. [...]
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