European Studies Essays – Welfare State and the European Nations

Welfare State and the European States

“The phrase ‘welfare state’ was foremost used in the late thirtiess, to separate between the policies of the democracies and the war province of European dictators” ( Spicker, 2003 ) . From the late 19th century, characteristics of a public assistance province began emerge in parts of Western Europe. The first European state to set in topographic point a public assistance province was Germany in 1883. The so Chancellor Otto Von Bismarck introduced a compulsory national accident and illness insurance jurisprudence. The insurance was financed by province subsidy ( Spicker ) .

A public assistance province is “a province where more than one half of all authorities outgos are devoted to societal policy, as opposed to the economic system, the armed forces, jurisprudence and order, substructure and other traditional maps of the state” ( Spicker, 2003 ) . Judt ( 2006 ) defines a public assistance province as a province which is chiefly concerned with distributing public assistance to its citizens. Such provinces spend the bigger proportion of their public outgos on public assistance.

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Harmonizing to Gough ( 2006 ) , welfare provinces in Europe were established during the Second World War. Their chief intent was to undertake the five evil giants that were confronting most of Europe at that clip. These immoralities included:

Poverty: Because of the war, many people were ill, idle or widowed hence were hapless.

Diseases: Despite many people being ill, they could non afford to seek intervention.

Ignorance: At that clip, school-leaving age was 11. Most kids were forced to drop out of schools because they could non afford to pay fees.

Sordidness: Majority of the population lived in hapless lodging installations ( slums ) because council houses were unequal.

Idleness: As a consequence of the war, most people lost their occupations and became unemployed.

The public assistance province was hence established to guarantee that kids stayed in school ; free medical intervention for all was introduced ; new council houses were built and more towns established to supply better lodging installations to the slum inhabitants and more industries were started to assist cut down the unemployment rate.

There are several aims of a public assistance province.

Equitable distribution of wealth and resources: Welfare provinces used progressive method of revenue enhancement aggregation whereby people with higher incomes paid more revenue enhancements and those with lower incomes paid less revenue enhancement. This method of revenue enhancement helped in reallocation of public money and shifting of resources from the resource-rich parts to resource-poor parts. This was effectual in accomplishing regional balance and in contracting the spread between the rich and the hapless ( Spicker, 2003 ) .

Income and criterion of populating care: Peoples can temporarily or for good be rendered incapable participating in the labour market. This can be due to old age, or illness. This usually consequences in loss of income for themselves and their households. But in a public assistance province, income care was assured whether or non person was working. This was usually “achieved through a assortment of public insurance strategies, ” ( Judt, 2006 ) . These included tax write-offs from an employee’s wage, parts made by the employers and the province. These tax write-offs and parts were deposited into an insurance fund from which persons were entitled to certain benefits, depending on the degree and the figure of parts made. These “insurance strategies covered unemployment, ill wage and old age pensions, ” ( Gough, 2006 ) .

Helping the deprived groups: public assistance provinces started plans to help those groups that were considered worse-off than others. Gough ( 2006 ) says that:

For case, European states have taken specific steps to battle rural poorness ; support households with kids ; supply for re-training and early retirement in industrial job parts ; help particularly those with structural employment job ( the long-run and older unemployed ; youth unemployment ) .

Provision of a public safety cyberspace was another aim of public assistance provinces. Welfare States ensured that each single enjoyed “a minimum degree of nice human being if no other resources are available, ” ( Gough, 2006 ) . In the pre-industrial epoch proviso for such persons was chiefly done by “local charities, communities, nobleness oblige, and the churches … on a much smaller scale” ( Gough ) .

Most Welfare States used their public assistance policy as a signifier of economic administration. Harmonizing to Gough ( 2006 ) , “the economic systems of Continental Europe, frequently called organized market economic systems, are characterized by a more marked function for the authorities in the economic system ….” Unlike in other provinces, the different economic sectors were normally in harmoniousness instead than in competition with each other. This contributed to the overall economic organisation and stableness, and is the ground why such economic systems were frequently labeled ‘organized market economies.’

Welfare provinces put up policies aimed at poorness obliteration. Such plans included Medicaid and Aid to Families with Dependent Children ( AFDC ) . However, such plans were non popular among the bulk of the population because they merely served the marginalized people who comprised a smaller proportion of the population.

The creative activity and development of the public assistance province followed different forms in each of the European states. The work forces behind the European public assistance province shared Keynes’s position which he voiced before his decease in 1946. Keynes said that “after the World War II, there would be a craving for societal and personal security in Europe. And there was. The public assistance province was constructed chiefly as a security revolution instead than a societal revolution, ” ( Judt, 2006 )

The German public assistance system was based on the three chief rules. The first 1 was “subsidiarity.” This rule holds that “services should be decentralized or independently managed” ( Spicker, 2003 ) . The function of the province was limited merely to countries which could non be covered by other agencies like military services. In Germany, high income earners were non covered by the chief societal insurance system ; they were left to do their ain determinations.

Economic development was another rule environing the German public assistance system. Provision of societal services was based on this rule. This was clearly apparent in “the close relationship of services to people’s place in the labour market. Social benefits were earnings-related, and those without work records found that they were non covered for of import contingencies” ( Spicker, 2003 ) . Additionally, the state’s disbursement on public assistance had to be straight related to the rule of economic development and growing.

Welfare province in Germany was originally established by Chancellor Otto Von Bismarck who introduced the rule of ‘corporatist structure’ . Harmonizing to Spicker, 2003:

This rule was developed by Bismarck on the footing of bing common assistance associations, and remained the footing for societal protection later. Social insurance, which covered the costs of wellness, some societal attention and much of the income care system, was managed by a system of independent financess.

The Gallic system of public assistance was regarded as the most generous public assistance system. It involved proviso of a broad scope of societal services, rendering it really complex and expensive to keep it. In France, the public assistance system was “based on the rule of solidarity, ” which was declared in the first article of the Gallic Code of Social Security ( Spicker, 2003 ) . However, the term “solidarity” was equivocal and was used in different fortunes to intend different things.

To some people, solidarity referred to cooperative common support whereby people who benefited from national public assistance strategies were expected to lend on an equal footing. To others, solidarity meant mutualist relationships, “common action, common duty and shared risks” ( Spicker, 2003 ) .

The Swedish Welfare System was viewed as an ideal signifier of public assistance province. The system offered institutional attention in that it offered “a cosmopolitan minimum” ( Judt, 2006 ) . Like all public assistance provinces, the Swedish authorities offered benefits to the unemployed, the ill people, and retired citizens. However, for a long clip this public assistance system was non efficaciously practiced because as Judt ( 2006 ) says, “the Swedish population had a strong tradition of entrepreneurship and difficult work and continued to work hard even though they now had the option to populate off government.” However, with clip, people adapted to the public assistance system.

The public assistance province of the United Kingdom was established by William Beveridge in 1942. The purpose of the province was to control the societal jobs that British citizens were confronting due to the effects of the Second World War. The authorities took the duty of supplying for its people. This policy resulted in high authorities outgo and an addition in the state’s cardinal duties. In add-on to the proviso of the basic services ( instruction, wellness, lodging and employment ) the province besides increased “regulation of industry nutrient and redistributive taxation” ( Gough, 2006 ) .

Most Welfare States did non last long because of assorted grounds. The first major ground was the nature of revenue enhancement and the salary construction. In most public assistance provinces, the societal benefits and wages for the low-skilled workers were among the highest in the universe, whereas those for the high-skilled workers were lower comparison to those of other states. Additionally, the high-skilled workers paid much higher revenue enhancements than the low–skilled workers. This attracted more low-skilled workers into these provinces, going a load to the Welfare State.

The issue of in-migration besides led to the prostration of the public assistance province. Because of the societal benefits a public assistance province offered, it attracted people from the low income states. Fjordman ( 2006 ) notes that “… they experienced … decomposition with the debut of mass in-migration of individuals who did non hold the cultural background necessary to continue the public assistance state.”

Last, the nature of the services that a public assistance province provided contributed to its prostration. Education and wellness services particularly are “ones on which people wish to pass more money as they become richer. Old age and retirement pensions imply that the authorities would hold to pass more as the population ages” ( Fjordman, 2006 ) . Because of this, the ratio of public disbursement to Gross Domestic Product was high and it became practically impossible to run into all the societal demands of its citizens.


Fjordman, C.The Welfare State: The Root of Europe’s Problems. The Brussels Journal. 2006, March 08

Gough, I.European Welfare States: Explanations and Lessons for Developing States.

University of Bath

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Judt, T.The Future of Decadent Europe. The Globalist. 2006, June 02.

Spicker, P. The Welfare State.Centre for Public Policy and Management: Robert Gordon University

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