Chapter

The Question of Convergence

in Why Welfare States Persist

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2007 | ISBN: 9780226075839
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226075952 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226075952.003.0005
The Question of Convergence

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Modern welfare states shape both individuals' life chances and the level of inequality in a society. North America, Western Europe, Australasia, and Japan are all capitalist democracies, characterized by the existence of private property and class inequalities. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, however, they are also welfare capitalist societies, making available a wide range of public provisions that include pensions, health care, unemployment benefits, child care, job training, and educational programs. While providing support through social policies, contemporary welfare states differ in important ways. The extent to which private property and labor markets govern the life chances of individuals varies with the generosity of welfare state policies. In Scandinavia, for instance, governments provide an encompassing array of benefits and services to citizens, and this establishes a safety net from childhood through old age.

Keywords: welfare state; inequality; North America; Western Europe; Australasia; Japan; capitalist democracies; private property; social policies; labor markets

Chapter.  5125 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Political Economy

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