Why We Need a New Welfare State

Why We Need a New Welfare State

Why We Need a New Welfare State

Why We Need a New Welfare State

Synopsis

Leading scholars in the field examine the highly topical issue of the future the welfare state in Europe. They argue that welfare states need to adjust and examine which kind of welfare architecture will further Europe's stated goal of maximum social inclusion and justice. This volume concentrates on four principle social domains; the aged and transition to retirement; the welfare issues related to profound changes in working life; the risks and needs that arise in households and, especially, in child families; and the challenges of creating gender equality.

Excerpt

Gøsta Esping-Andersen

Europe was a youthful continent in the post-war decades and, yet, its social welfare policies came to focus very much on the elderly. Now that our societies are ageing it is becoming quite urgent that we invest far more in the welfare of children. This would all appear a bit paradoxical.

The paradox disappears once we consider historical context. the average post-war male breadwinner enjoyed good job prospects and rising wages. This, in turn, secured adequate welfare for most families, and it allowed even working-class households the luxury of full-time housewifery. in brief, welfare capitalism gave rise to both income security and ample caring capacity within what we now regard as the traditional family. Add to this considerable marital stability and it is quite understandable that social policy could assume that children and, more generally, families were not the most urgent issue on the political agenda.

The same could not be said for the elderly. As the idea of mandatory retirement spread, older workers and especially widows often moved into old age poverty. in part because the traditional three-generation household was in eclipse and, in part, because those retiring in the post-war decades had been an historically unlucky generation. They were young during World War I, their adult careers spanned the deep depression and World War ii. Having accumulated few resources, adequate pension provision was the main guarantee against poverty in old age.

Young families today face a wholly new and, yet again, historically bounded paradox. in the new economy, the fundamental requisites for a good life are rising ever more. This implies that life chances depend increasingly on the cultural, social, and cognitive capital that citizens can amass. the fundamental life phase is in childhood, and the crucial issue lies in the inter-play between parental and societal investments in children's development. The

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