IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/hit/hiasdp/hias-e-30.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Real and Imagined Threats to the Welfare State

Author

Listed:
  • LINDERT, Peter H.

Abstract

The traditionally, and wrongly, imagined vulnerabilities of the welfare state are economic. The true threats are demographic and political. The most frequently imagined threat is that the welfare state package reduces the level and growth of GDP. It does not, according to broad historical patterns and non-experimental panel econometrics. Large-budget welfare states achieve a host of social improvements without any clear loss of GDP. The paper elaborates on how this "free lunch" is gained in practice. Other threats to the welfare state are more real, however. Two demographic-political clouds loom on the horizon in the twenty-first century, though neither cloud reveals an economic flaw specific to the welfare state. One cloud is the rise of anti-immigrant backlash. If combined with heavy refugee inflows, this could destroy future public support for universalist welfare state programs, even though they seem to remain economically sound. The other, and more certainly rain-bearing, cloud is that population aging poses a serious problem for financing old age, either publicly or privately. Pension deficits threatens to crowd out more productive social spending. Only a few countries have faced this issue very well.

Suggested Citation

  • LINDERT, Peter H., 2016. "Real and Imagined Threats to the Welfare State," Discussion paper series HIAS-E-30, Hitotsubashi Institute for Advanced Study, Hitotsubashi University.
  • Handle: RePEc:hit:hiasdp:hias-e-30
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://hermes-ir.lib.hit-u.ac.jp/rs/bitstream/10086/27950/1/070_hiasDP-E-30.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H10 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - General
    • H50 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - General
    • N32 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-
    • N34 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: 1913-

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:hit:hiasdp:hias-e-30. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Digital Resources Section, Hitotsubashi University Library). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/ashitjp.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.