Welfare state

Welfare state
Posted on 30-03-2022

A political-economic model with which the State sustains the services, complying with the social rights of the largest number of inhabitants possible.

What is the welfare state?

The welfare state is a political-economic model with which the State sustains the services complying with the social rights of the greatest number of inhabitants possible, seeking that the economic distribution is equitable for the entire population and with the objective of achieving the maximum general welfare through actions such as free education, public health, unemployment insurance, etc.

The concept of the welfare state was implemented in the 19th century after many revolutions in which workers demanded a change due to their constantly exploitative working conditions.

Origin of the welfare state

The ideas and institutions that we now identify as the welfare state were developed in 1883 on the European continent when Otto Van Bismarck decided to establish the social insurance modality, which covered workers' illnesses, and later became a policy popular that in the following years also contemplated pensions.

The welfare state concept was exposed in 1942 in conjunction with the Beveridge report, which inferred a benefactor state's responsibility for workers. However, it had greater relevance when in 1929 John Keynes exposed the term «Welfare State» with which he intended to oppose the liberal concept of the time.

Characteristics of the welfare state

The main characteristics of the welfare state are the following:

  • The welfare state is characterized by granting two main fundamental pillars:  education and free public health.
  • It grants benefits to those people who have different capacities, such as subsidies or disability pensions.
  • High state intervention in the economy.
  • It encourages domestic consumption with the aim of stimulating the production of jobs.
  • It encourages the development of science and culture in the population.

Types of the welfare state

The main types of welfare states are:

  • Liberal-American model: This model is based on social protection only for the marginalized or the most vulnerable sectors. This model is also known as Anglo-Saxon.
  • Social-democratic model: this model includes benefits such as benefits for the entire population. It is the largest of all and where the State plays a major role in the economy.
  • Conservative model: this model prevailed in past generations, mainly in Europe, when benefits were granted to families, but the aim was to maintain the different social strata. Thus, for example, a worker received fewer benefits than a State worker.


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