Welfare State

  • Thomas BahleEmail author
  • Jürgen Kohl
  • Claus Wendt


The welfare state is at the heart of the institutional structure of all European societies. Yet there are major variations across countries due to different historical developments. The origins of social policy date back more than 120 years, but the real expansion of the welfare state did not take place until the end of World War II. In the 1950s, social programmes in most western European countries entered into a historically unique period of growth, which lasted until the 1970s (Flora 1986–1988). Since the early 1980s, however, the dominating issues of the welfare state debate have been crisis and retrenchment (Pierson 2001). Today, the expansion of state welfare has come to an end in most countries, but the core institutions and features of the welfare state have survived (Kuhnle 2000) and even been stabilized and consolidated. After more than 20 years of crisis debates and retrenchment policies, the welfare state has successfully adapted to domestic as well as international pressures (Castles 2004) and is supported by the vast majority of citizens in all European nations. The role of the state in social security, on the other hand, has changed during this time.


Welfare State Pension System Eastern European Country Pension Scheme Family Policy 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Mannheim Center for European Social ResearchUniversity of MannheimMannheimGermany
  2. 2.Institute of SociologyUniversity of HeidelbergHeidelbergGermany
  3. 3.Mannheim Center for European Social ResearchUniversity of MannheimMannheimGermany

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