Differing notions of social welfare? Britain and Germany compared

Christoph Burkhardt, Rose Martin, Steffen Mau and Peter Taylor-Gooby

in Converging Worlds of Welfare?

Published in print May 2011 | ISBN: 9780199584499
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191728792 | DOI:

Series: Creating Sustainable Growth In Europe

Differing notions of social welfare? Britain and Germany compared

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Germany and Great Britain represent two contrasting welfare state regimes resting on different distributional principles: liberalism and corporatism. Against this background the chapter asks whether the institutional design is reflected in public opinion towards the welfare state. It analyses how recent changes such as the emphasis on individual responsibility and social investment are viewed by the general public. The article compares social attitudes by using data from various quantitative surveys. Attitudes do not differ greatly between countries in relation to overall support for government intervention, but there are differences in particular areas. In Germany, respondents stress that the government should take on the role of supporting more vulnerable groups in access to employment, while in the UK the role of government is seen much more as regulating welfare so as not to undermine individual commitment to take responsibility for oneself. This stronger notion of individualism and market freedom in the UK is also reflected in the greater social acceptability of buying better services in the core areas of education and health care. However, this chapter also observes a gradual shift towards support for themes that have emerged recently in policy in the two countries like social investment. This may indicate a trend towards convergence.

Keywords: welfare state; public social attitudes; welfare regimes; Germany; Great Britain; quantitative data

Chapter.  8187 words. 

Subjects: Economic Development and Growth

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