What the European and American welfare states have in common and where they differ: facts and fiction in comparisons of the European social model and the United States
AbstractThis paper examines to what extent the classification of the American welfare state as "residual" squares with the empirical facts. Section I describes key features of American social policy developments. The U.S. system is clearly dominated by public provisions for welfare among which social insurance programs, especially Social Security and Medicare, represent the lion's share, and public pensions are more universal, redistributive, and generous than in some European countries. Noteworthy differences remain with respect to the stronger reliance on private provisions in pensions and health, the emphasis on work-conditioned benefits and a greater importance of selective schemes. The terms "work-conditioned welfare" or "corporate citizenship" adequately capture these key features by highlighting that employers are gatekeepers of social entitlements. Section II examines if key features of the American welfare state have recently become more prominent in Europe. A slight approximation to the American model is found with respect to a growing importance of private expenditure for pensions and health, but not with respect to a greater selectivity of benefits. On the level of policy discourse, the idée directrice of European social policies is changing from social protection to activation, as three traditionally American elements have come to prominence: an emphasis on individual responsibility, on the private supply of services and more consumer choice, and on the activation of people at working age. Yet there is no general convergence towards the American model, because the United States is approximating Europe with respect to health insurance while public attitudes are shifting in favour of extended state responsibilities. Hence there is a complex pattern of specific policy learning rather than convergence towards one model of social policy. In sum, similarities between social policies in Europe and America are found to be more noteworthy than the term "residual welfare state" for the U.S. suggests. --
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB) in its series Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Inequality and Social Integration with number SP I 2009-203.
Date of creation: 2009
Date of revision:
Contact details of provider:
Postal: Reichpietschufer 50, 10785 Berlin, Germany
Phone: ++49 - 30 - 25491 - 0
Fax: ++49 - 30 - 25491 - 684
Web page: http://www.wzb.eu/
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Willem Adema & Marcel Einerhand, 1998. "The Growing Role of Private Social Benefits," OECD Labour Market and Social Policy Occasional Papers 32, OECD Publishing.
- Esping-Andersen, Gosta, 1999. "Social Foundations of Postindustrial Economies," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198742005.
- Alber, Jens & Gilbert, Neil (ed.), 2009. "United in Diversity?: Comparing Social Models in Europe and America," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195376630.
- Eichhorst, Werner & Hemerijck, Anton, 2008. "Welfare and Employment: A European Dilemma?," IZA Discussion Papers 3870, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- Willem Adema & Maxime Ladaique, 2005. "Net Social Expenditure, 2005 Edition: More Comprehensive Measures of Social Support," OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers 29, OECD Publishing.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (ZBW - German National Library of Economics).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.