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National welfare-states and Europeanization

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  1. Introduction
  2. The diversity of welfare states
  3. Arguments in favor
  4. Criticisms
  5. Current challenges on European welfare states
    1. Austerity and neoliberalism
    2. Population ageing
    3. Post-industrialism and new values
    4. Socio-cultural changes
  6. The example of pension politics in Europe
    1. From growth to reforms
    2. Post industrial values causing splits and new political alliances
    3. Trade unions generally losing ground
  7. Europeanization: similar development of the welfare-states vs. impact of EU policies?
    1. The convergence thesis
    2. The role of the European Union
    3. The European Union supporting decentralization
  8. Conclusion

Nowadays every major industrialized state has established some form of welfare state, although the precise design differs considerably amongst countries. However, the basic idea common to all forms is that the state redistributes some of the resources of the market economy in order to achieve certain desired social outcomes such as higher equality or lower levels of poverty.

There are three basic forms of welfare states (Esping-Andersen, 1990). First, there is the liberal Anglo-Saxon regime which originates in the Beveridge model developed in the UK from 1945. The United States' welfare system is a good example of it. It is a residual system, which means that welfare is only intended for the poor as a safety net. Second, there is the Corporatist Central Europe regime, which exists in countries such as Germany.

It is based on the Bismarck model of the Sozialstaat (social state) developed by Otto von Bismarck in Germany in the 1880s. This model constituted the first form of social insurance so far and involved contributions from workers to finance their own benefits, such as old age pensions and accident insurance. It is work-focused: people who do not work might be excluded from some benefits, and those with the highest incomes are similarly not entitled to all benefits. Finally, there is the social-democratic regime, which can be found in many Scandinavian countries.

[...] Europeanization: similar development of the welfare-states vs. Impact of EU policies? The convergence thesis The ?convergence thesis? (Marshall 1998) conveys the idea that the modernization and the internationalization after the second world war have forced countries to adopt the same kind of policies. Through the example of pension politics, we saw that European countries follow the same trend of development for regarding their national welfare states. As European countries know the same context of austerity, neoliberal questions on the legitimacy of welfare states' levels, ageing population and post-industrial social change, it seems logical that they adopt the same policies, on the retrenchments as well as on the expansive elements. [...]


[...] The United States' welfare system is a good example of it. It is a residual system, which means that welfare is only intended for the poor as a safety net. Second, there is the Corporatist Central Europe regime, which exists in countries such as Germany. It is based on the Bismarck model of the Sozialstaat (social state) developed by Otto von Bismarck in Germany in the 1880s. This model constituted the first form of social insurance so far and involved contributions from workers to finance their own benefits, such as old age pensions and accident insurance. [...]

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