European welfare state

European Welfare State

European welfare state

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There are three main interpretations of the idea of a welfare state:
  • the provision of welfare services by the state.
  • an ideal model in which the state assumes primary responsibility for the welfare of its citizens. This responsibility is comprehensive, because all aspects of welfare are considered; a "safety net" is not enough, nor are minimum standards. It is universal, because it covers every person as a matter of right.
  • the provision of welfare in society. In many "welfare states", especially in Central Europe, welfare is not actually provided by the state, but by a combination of independent, voluntary, mutualist and government services. The functional provider of benefits and services may be a central or state government, a state-sponsored company or agency, a private corporation, a charity or another form of non-profit organisation.


Some of the European welfare states have been described as the most well developed and extensive.

Welfare state in Europe

It is a common argument saying that there exists a unique "European social model", in contrast with the social model existing in the US. The truth is that the reality is more complex. Economists have agreed on the fact that there exist different social models in the EU. Although each European country has its own singularities, one can distinguish four different welfare or social models in Europe Sapir, A. (2005): Globalisation and the Reform of......
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