4 minute read

Welfare State

Future Prospects

During the era when welfare-state programs were expanding, the emphasis was on the politics of ‘‘credit taking.’’ However, as we look to the future the focus is likely to be on further welfare-state retrenchment, which will in large measure be an exercise in ‘‘blame avoidance.’’ To this end we should expect legislation that phases in further benefit cuts and tax increases gradually. It is likely that the trend to make benefits, particularly pension benefits, correspond more closely to actual payroll contributions made is likely to continue and with it a corresponding weakening of provisions calling for redistribution.

Current trends suggest that the goal of a highly developed cradle to grave welfare state may be an idea whose time has passed. The era of generous and ever-increasing public commitment to social welfare programs aimed at the working class, the middle class, and the poor may be ebbing. The current trend is clearly toward individual provision and the privatization of what had for many years been government funded welfare-state programs. However, the tide may change yet again when we next experience a prolonged period of economic contraction. At that point the limits of individual provision and privatization may become more evident; we may see a swing back in the direction of public provision and possibly a renewed interest in welfare-state programs and the philosophy that under-girds such programs.



BERKOWITZ, E. D. ‘‘The Historical Development of Social Security in the United States.’’ In Social Security in the 21st Century. Edited by E. R. Kingston and J. H. Schulz. Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press, 1997. Pages 22–38.

BINSTOCK, R. H. ‘‘Framing the Generational Equity Debate.’’ In The Generational Equity Debate. Edited J. B. Williamson, D. M. Watts-Roy, and E. R. Kingston. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999. Pages 157–184.

CALLAHAN, D. Setting Limits: Medical Goals in an Aging Society. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1987.

ESPING-ANDERSEN, G. The Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1990.

ESPING-ANDERSEN, G. ‘‘After the Golden Age? Welfare State Dilemmas in a Global Economy.’’ In Welfare States in Transition: National Adaptations in Global Economies. Edited by G. Esping-Andersen. London: Sage Publications, 1996. Pages 1–31.

ESTES, C. L. ‘‘The Reagan Legacy: Privatization, the Welfare State, and Aging in the 1990s.’’ In States, Labor Markets, and the Future of Old-Age Policy. Edited by J. Myles and J. Quadagon. Philadelphia, Pa.: Temple University Press, 1991. Pages 59–83.

HICKS, A. Social Democracy and Welfare Capitalism: A Century of Income Security Politics. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1999.

HUDSON, R. B. ‘‘The History and Place of Age-Based Public Policy.’’ In The Future of Age Based Policy. Edited by R. B. Hudson. Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997. Pages 1–22.

KANE, R. L., and KANE, R. A. ‘‘Health Care for Older People: Organizational and Policy Issues.’’ In Handbook of Aging and the Social Sciences, 3d ed. Edited by R. Binstock and L. K. George. San Diego: Academic Press, 1990. Pages 415–437.

MARMOR, T. R. The Politics of Medicare, 2d ed. New York: Aldine de Gruyter, 2000.

MYLES, J. Old Age in the Welfare State: The Political Economy of Public Pensions, rev. ed. Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 1989.

PIERSON, P., and SMITH, M. ‘‘Shifting Fortunes of the Elderly: The Comparative Politics of Retrenchment.’’ In Economic Security and Intergenerational Justice: A Look at North America. Edited by T. R. Marmor, T. M. Smeeding, and V. L. Greene. Washington, D.C.: Urban Institute Press, 1994. Pages 21–60.

PIVEN, F. F., and CLOWARD, R. A. Regulating the Poor: The Functions of Public Welfare. New York: Vintage Books, 1971.

POWELL, L. A.; BRANCO, K. J.; and WILLIAMSON, J. B. The Senior Rights Movement: Framing the Policy Debate in America. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1996.

QUADAGNO, J. The Transformation of Old Age Security: Class and Politics in the American Welfare State. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988.

SKOCPOL, T. Protecting Soldiers and Mothers: The Political Origins of Social Policy in the United States. Cambridge, Mass.: Belnap Press of Harvard University Press, 1992.

WILENSKY, H. L. The Welfare State and Equality: Structural and Ideological Roots of Public Expenditures. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1975.

WILLIAMSON, J. B., and PAMPEL, F. C. Old Age Security in Comparative Perspective. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.

WILLIAMSON, J. B., and WATTS-ROY, D. M. ‘‘Framing the Generational Equity Debate.’’ In The Generational Equity Debate. Edited by J. B. Williamson, D. M. Watts-Roy, and E. R. Kingson. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999. Pages 3–38.



Additional topics

Medicine EncyclopediaAging Healthy - Part 4Welfare State - American Exceptionalism, Welfare-state Contraction Begins, The Generational Equity Debate, The Trend Toward Privatization