Social Risks and Welfare States

Gøsta Esping‐Andersen

in Social Foundations of Postindustrial Economies

Published in print February 1999 | ISBN: 9780198742005
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191599163 | DOI:
 Social Risks and Welfare States

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This chapter and the previous one revisit the political economy within which post‐war welfare regimes emerged, matured, and, now appear crisis‐ridden. Here, an analysis is made of social risks and welfare states. The post‐war welfare state was premised upon assumptions about family structure and labour market behaviour that, today, are largely invalid. Risks that in the 1950s or 1960s were assumed away are now becoming dominant, and vice versa. The post‐war welfare state being the child of the 1930s Depression and the ‘workers question’, was moulded on a society in which the prototypical client was a male production worker, who is now rather hard to find. A first step towards an understanding of the contemporary welfare state crisis must begin with: (a) a diagnosis of the changing distribution and intensity of social risks, and (b) a comprehensive examination of how risks are pooled and distributed between state, market, and family. The different sections of the chapter are: The State in the Welfare Nexus—the misunderstood family, and the welfare triad of state, market, and family; The Foundations of Welfare Regimes: Risk Management—family and market ‘failures’; and The distribution of risks and models of solidarity—class risks, life‐course risks, intergenerational risks, de‐commodification, and familialism and de‐familialism.

Keywords: class risks; de‐commodification; de‐familialism; familialism; family; family failures; family structure; intergenerational risks; labour markets; life‐course risks; market failures; models of solidarity; political economy; post‐war welfare regimes; risk distribution; risk management; risk pooling; social risks; welfare regimes; welfare state crisis; welfare states

Chapter.  6493 words. 

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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