Ideal (and Real) Types of Welfare State
In the extensive literature that has been dedicated during the past fifteen years to the comparative analysis of the welfare states, a significant number of studies have focused on the identification of the ideal regimes or types, in addition to their empirical validation. The celebrated work, Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism, by Esping-Andersen (1990) constituted the point of departure for a vigorous academic debate which, as a response to some of the criticisms that were raised by the study, led to the construction of various alternative typologies, as well as a prodigious output of empirical studies aiming to identify what is termed in the present paper, real types. This paper seeks to contribute to the discussion on the current state of knowledge with regard to the differences and similarities in the welfare states following the scientific contributions made over the past fifteen years. Two general conclusions emerge in particular: firstly, that the diversity of typologies has not contributed to the desired clarification; and secondly, that the results of the studies are inconclusive, both with regard to the precise number of real types of welfare state – despite the fact that all of them confirm the existence of at least three types – and to the classification of the countries concerned. The existence of significant divergences, and even of contradictory results, highlights the need for continued research. However, rather than simply constructing new typologies, it is necessary to incorporate into empirical analyses a temporal evaluation of the effects of the reforms introduced in the welfare states.
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- Barr, Nicholas, 1992. "Economic Theory and the Welfare State: A Survey and Interpretation," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(2), pages 741-803, June.
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