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date: 17 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter describes welfare state transformation in OECD countries since the 1970s against the background of the postwar settlement. We show that welfare states have converged, and what has emerged can best be described as the “supply-side welfare state” model. We differ from earlier prognoses of a race to the bottom by generous welfare states and disagree with the view that a supply-side orientation equals reduced social expenditure. But convergence implies that the space to maneuver has shrunk for policy-makers. The consequences of the 2008 financial crisis for welfare states are difficult to predict but some countries have experienced harsh austerity measures since then, and thus the 2008 financial crisis may mark the end of the convergence period described here.

Keywords: welfare state, OECD countries, state spending, social policy, transfer payments, healthcare, childcare, elderly care, worker training

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