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The Status of the Welfare State in a Free-Market Society: A Review of Intellectual Controversies since World War Ⅱ
Hoover Institution - One Hundred Years
First lines: In the Western world, it is widely acknowledged that the Welfare state has gradually eroded since the end of the 1970s due to a range of liberalization and deregulation policies, such as the privatization of social insurance schemes, the decentralization of Welfare services, or increases in competition between Welfare providers. Certainly, the pathways taken by such a large-scale transformation has varied from by country and by sector—overall, it has been more pronounced in Anglo-Saxon democracies than in Continental Europe, and more perceptible for pensions than for healthcare. It is also true that a number of post-war Welfare institutions have proven to be very resilient or particularly difficult to remove (think of America’s Medicare or the National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom). Still, the creation of countrywide Welfare institutions is no longer seen as the sole nor the dominant way through which the nation-state envisions its intervention upon social and economic life. Indeed, recent events suggest that when present-day politicians try to promote large-scale program change, they face far greater opposition than their post-war predecessors—as recently exemplified by the conflictual adoption of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in the US.