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The Welfare State as Piggy Bank: Information, Risk, Uncertainty, and the Role of the State

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  • Barr, Nicholas

    (Department of Economics, London School of Economics)

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    Abstract

    Of the many functions of the welfare state, two are particularly prominent: the 'Robin Hood' function - the provision of poverty relief, the redistribution of income and wealth, and the reduction of social exclusion; and the 'piggy bank' function - ensuring mechanisms for insurance and for redistribution over the life cycle. The piggy-bank function, unlike the redistributive purpose of the welfare state, has received relatively little attention, and is not widely understood. This book redresses the balance. Nicholas Barr's central contention is that---contrary to popular opinion---the welfare state exists for reasons additional to poverty relief. These reasons - encapsulated by the piggy-bank function - arise out of pervasive problems of imperfect information, risk, and uncertainty. Even if all poverty and social exclusion could be eradicated, people would still need to insure themselves and to redistribute over the life cycle. As a result, Barr argues, the welfare state is here to stay, since twenty-first century developments do nothing to undermine these reasons. He also explores ways in which the welfare state can and will adapt to economic and social change, including specific, and sometimes novel, solutions. The analysis in "The Welfare State as Piggy Bank" is international, applying to advanced industrial countries, as well as addressing post-communist countries, and touching upon middle-income developing countries. Barr's approach is contemporary and forward-thinking. His discussion ranges over a number of topics of central relevance to life in the twenty-first century, including genetic screening and its impact on insurance; the convergence of private and social insurance; how to finance long-term care; pension reform in the light of fluid family structures and a mobile workforce; loans for financing investment in human capital; and new ways of involving private finance in tertiary education. Available in OSO: http://www.oxfordscholarship.com/oso/public/content/economicsfinance/0199246599/toc.html

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    Bibliographic Info

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    This book is provided by Oxford University Press in its series OUP Catalogue with number 9780199246595 and published in 2001.

    ISBN: 9780199246595
    Order: http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/product/9780199246595.do
    Handle: RePEc:oxp:obooks:9780199246595

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    Citations

    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. How fair is Australia’s welfare state?
      by Peter Whiteford in Club Troppo on 2011-07-11 08:26:12
    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
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    Cited by:
    1. Feduzi, Alberto & Runde, Jochen, 2011. "The uncertain foundations of the welfare state," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 80(3), pages 613-627.
    2. Vodopivec, Milan, 2004. "A Simulation of an Income Contingent Tuition Scheme in a Transition Economy," IZA Discussion Papers 1247, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. repec:aia:ginidp:dp53 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. O Debande & Vincent Vandenberghe, 2007. "Refinancing Europe’s Higher Education through Deferred and Income-Contingent Fees: An empirical assessment using Belgian, German and UK data," CASE Papers /124, Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion, LSE.
    5. Ali Ait Si Mhamed & Rita Kaša & Zane Cunska, 2012. "Student debt levels and income of University of Latvia graduates: Prospects for income-contingent loan repayment by the field of studies and gender," Baltic Journal of Economics, Baltic International Centre for Economic Policy Studies, vol. 12(2), pages 73-88, December.
    6. Andersen, Torben M., 2004. "Challenges to the Scandinavian welfare model," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 743-754, September.
    7. Vodopivec, Milan, 2009. "Introducing Unemployment Insurance to Developing Countries," IZA Policy Papers 6, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. Verbist, G. (Gerlinde) & Matsaganis, M. (Manos), 2012. "GINI DP 53: The Redistributive Capacity of Services in the EU," GINI Discussion Papers 53, AIAS, Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies.
    9. Maria Racionero & Elena Del Rey, 2006. "Financing schemes for higher education," ANU Working Papers in Economics and Econometrics 2006-460, Australian National University, College of Business and Economics, School of Economics.
    10. John Quiggin, 2009. "Risk Shifts in Australia: Implications of the Financial Crisis," Australian Public Policy Program Working Papers WPP09_1, Risk and Sustainable Management Group, University of Queensland.
    11. Nicholas Barr & Peter Diamond, 2006. "The economics of pensions," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 2630, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    12. Gordon, Myron J., 2005. "Growth, uncertainty and the Third World in the rise and fall of capitalism," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 153-177, April.
    13. Nicholas Barr & Edina Berlinger & Rimantas Dumcius & Simonas Gausas & Gyula Gilly & Hugh Macadie & Andras Nemeslaki & Erika Papp & Daiva Repeckaite, 2011. "Feasibility study on student lending," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 42833, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    14. Tomassi, Federico, 2011. "Equità sociale ed efficienza economica: La spesa sociale totale netta nei paesi Ocse tra il 2001 e il 2007
      [Social equality and economic efficiency: Net total social expenditure in the Oecd countr
      ," MPRA Paper 44378, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    15. Quiggin, John, 2007. "Risk and Social Democracy," Risk and Sustainable Management Group Working Papers 151516, University of Queensland, School of Economics.
    16. Nicholas Barr, 2002. "Reforming pensions : myths, truths, and policy choices," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 286, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    17. Marek Góra, 2013. "Political economy of pension reforms: selected general issues and the Polish pension reform case," IZA Journal of Labor & Development, Springer, vol. 2(1), pages 1-31, December.
    18. Nicholas Barr & Alison Johnston, 2010. "Interest Subsidies on Student Loans: A Better Class of Drain," CEE Discussion Papers 0114, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE.

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