Academic journal article Economics & Sociology

Welfare State in Central and Eastern Europe

Academic journal article Economics & Sociology

Welfare State in Central and Eastern Europe

Article excerpt

Introduction

Investigation of the welfare state as a phenomenon began in the middle of the 20th century, however, quality of life remains to be a relevant topic today (Bartkowiak-Bakun, 2017). Reduction of social marginalization and income inequality, and ensuring prosperity for each member of society are the main objectives of the welfare state (Khouri et al., 2017; Draskovic, 2017; Beg et al., 2017; Calinescu et al., 2018). Therefore, welfare state is often associated primarily with Scandinavian countries with their very well developed systems of social benefits.

However, shared values and interaction between the market, the family and the state are equally important. Based on the chosen social policies aimed at reducing inequalities in society, a certain model of welfare state can be assigned to the state. Despite the significant interest of scientists, there is no single and clear way to investigate the existing model of welfare state in each country. And particularly, very little attention has been paid to the analysis of welfare state in Central and Eastern European countries.

The global financial crisis which began back in 2007 has been a challenge for welfare states and has led a number of governments to the decision to review their social policies. Changes in the volumes of social benefits and/or their provision rules as well as demographic situation have affected further development of the welfare state (Meyer et al., 2017; Ushakov et al., 2017).

This study aims at analyzing the existing welfare state models (Draskovic et al., 2017) in Europe and investigating welfare regimes in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe.

The hierarchical cluster analysis, employed in this study, has revealed that five welfare state models can be distinguished in Europe. The analysis also revealed that Central and Eastern European countries are too diverse to form a single cluster, and thus two models of the welfare state - the Eastern European welfare model and the Central European welfare model - could be distinguished.

While investigating the situation of Central and Eastern Europe countries in the general European context, it was observed that the Central Europe welfare model is closer to the old European countries, while the Eastern Europe welfare model is very different from all the other welfare state models.

The structure of the paper is as follows. Section 1 presents the literature review. Section 2 explains the suggested research methodology. Section 3 is dedicated to the results of cluster analysis, while section 4 compares Eastern and Central European welfare state models.

1.Literature review

British scholar Richard M. Titmuss, who in the late 1960s presented welfare states classification scheme and distinguished the Residual, the Industrial AchievementPerformance, and the Institutional Redistributive welfare models (Titmuss, 1974) is generally considered to be the pioneer of the social policies modeling. In the countries of the residual model, families are given priority and the state intervenes only in the extreme cases when the family itself can no longer take care of its well-being. In the welfare state of production, a significant role is played by the social welfare institutions that provide support in terms of performance and productivity, while the institutional redistributive welfare model provides social services based on the need, seek social equality.

However, the greatest impact on the further research of the welfare states had Danish sociologist's Gosta Esping-Andersen's classification, which was based on decommodification and stratification criteria. Decommodification here reflects the degree to which individuals can maintain a socially acceptable standard of living without market intervention, i.e. the more favorable the possibility of receiving state social benefits or other state support, the higher is the level of decommodification; while stratification means the division of society into social strata by income level, education, social status or other characteristics (EspingAndersen, 1995). …

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