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One Welfare State for Europe: A Costly Utopia?


  • Thierry Warin


  • Peter Hennessy


This paper addresses the question of the social policy harmonization in the European Union. In adopting a common monetary policy Europe is faced with structural and fiscal concerns, as national growth levels differ. Another possible factor in output shocks are the levels of various social expenditures in the member countries. OECD data on the level of social program expenditures in four EU countries will wb compared to fluctuations in GDP growth to identify existing relationships. Significant relationships between independent social expenditure policy and GDP growth shocks portends structural harmonization as an improvement if Europe is to take full advantage of the common market. However, the effects of expenditure levels may be easier to identify and predict than the dynamic effects of policy change. As the effects of future policy changes are more difficult to ascertain, harmonization may not consistently appear to be a Pareto-optimum solution to asymmetric shocks.

Suggested Citation

  • Thierry Warin & Peter Hennessy, 2003. "One Welfare State for Europe: A Costly Utopia?," Middlebury College Working Paper Series 0325, Middlebury College, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:mdl:mdlpap:0325

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Perotti, Roberto, 1996. "Fiscal Consolidation in Europe: Composition Matters," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(2), pages 105-110, May.
    2. Theo Hitiris & John Nixon, 2001. "Convergence of health care expenditure in the EU countries," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 8(4), pages 223-228.
    3. Alesina, Alberto & Perotti, Roberto, 1997. "The Welfare State and Competitiveness," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(5), pages 921-939, December.
    4. Bertil Holmlund, 2002. "International spillover effects of sectoral tax differentiation in unionized economies," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 54(2), pages 207-229, April.
    5. Theo Hitiris, 1997. "Health care expenditure and integration in the countries of the European Union," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 29(1), pages 1-6.
    6. Daniel T. Slesnick, 1998. "Empirical Approaches to the Measurement of Welfare," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(4), pages 2108-2165, December.
    7. Perotti, Roberto & Alesina, Alberto, 1997. "The Welfare State and Competitiveness," Scholarly Articles 4553027, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    8. Breitung, Jorg, 2002. "Nonparametric tests for unit roots and cointegration," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 108(2), pages 343-363, June.
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    More about this item


    Europe; welfare state; coordination; integration;

    JEL classification:

    • D6 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics
    • H77 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - Intergovernmental Relations; Federalism
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs

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