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The welfare sate – cleavages between Germany and the United Kingdom

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  1. Introduction
  2. Liberal and conservative welfare regimes
  3. Institutional design and social integration
    1. The German unification
    2. The liberal-leaning welfare system of Britain
    3. The National Health Service
  4. Conclusion
  5. Bibliography

Since the comfortable mixture of economic growth and welfare state expansion has come to an end the welfare state has been subjected to a crisis discussion. Its integrative capacity and its ability to compromise different class interests have been doubted. It was assumed that the higher status groups will express their anti-welfare sentiments within the political arena, whereas the welfare beneficiaries of the lower status sections of the society might be the defenders of the welfare state. In this regard, it was widely assumed that people will support social institutions if they derive benefits from them. The ?beneficial involvement? of social groups was seen as the crucial factor for the public standing of the welfare institutions. Special attention was given to the middle classes: ?The idea here is that if the middle classes benefit from programs, then they will not use their not inconsiderable political skills to obtain more resources for those programs or to defend them in periods of decline? (Goodin/LeGrand, 1987). This essay sets out a comparative frame which charts the attitudinal stances towards the welfare state in Great Britain and Germany

[...] For the comparison of the United Kingdom and Germany one might draw on Titmuss (1974) ?models of social policy? and Esping-Andersens (1990) ?worlds of welfare capitalism?. Within Titmuss' frame, the UK represents the ?residual welfare model? with a limited function of state welfare, whereas Germany can be characterised as an ?industrial achievement model? where the policy is constructed in close relationship with the employment status. Esping-Andersen's welfare regimes cluster the different models in a similar vein. By taking up and fleshing out the Marschallian (1963) proposition that social citizenship constitutes the core idea of the welfare state Esping-Anderson looks at the way in which social rights and entitlements are granted. [...]


[...] III) Institutional design and social integration This systematisation of welfare regimes is very telling for the political and moral economy of the welfare state. It does not only address the institutional features which generate rational support for the welfare state, it also includes the normative and ideational connotations of the institutions. From this perspective, one can derive some insights of how the welfare regimes ensure their popular acceptance, and how the interests of different groups are integrated and tied together. [...]


[...] The concept of fairness which is represented in the pension system is rather a general one of ?past productivity' even though the entitlement rules are strict - than one of direct congruence between contributions and benefits[5]. Pensions form with around 40 per cent the largest of social expenditure. But despite this integrative capacity the social security design is open to destabilisation coming from a lack of compliance. For example, it has been emphasised that the social security system appears to be vulnerable to labour market imbalances; in first instance, because the labour market determines the size of contributions and the size of the beneficiaries, and in secondly, because the social security system determines the market strategies of the labour market participants (see Offe, 1991). [...]

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