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date: 12 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This article addresses both the social expenditures and the revenues of the welfare state. Using the latest data available, it investigates major developments in social spending and public revenues in twenty-one advanced democracies since 1980. Then, it describes measurement issues and sheds light on the determinants of cross-national differences in spending and revenue levels identified in the literature. The argument is that spending and revenue figures, irrespective of shortcomings noted subsequently, provide important indicators of both the logic and pattern of welfare state development over a given period. Patterns of social spending and taxation strongly overlap and support the notion of distinct families of nations. Social spending neither shows very much about levels of benefit provision nor does it capture the regulatory dimension of social policy.

Keywords: welfare state, social expenditures, social spending, public revenues, cross-national differences, taxation, social policy

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