The welfare state is still very much central in people’s everyday lives. The welfare state is at the same time contested and debated, and has often been argued to be in a crisis not only in the wake of the financial crisis. Welfare and welfare states used to be a national issue and prerogative. Today welfare and welfare states are influenced by national as well as regional and global decisions. However, nation states play a decisive role influenced by national preferences and ideas, and, in recent years, populism and welfare chauvinism.

This book provides an overview of the central concepts through the lenses of the state, market and civil society. It also provides the reader with knowledge on distribution in societies and how this interacts and influences different groups and their position in society. There are also chapters dealing specifically with central sectors in the welfare states such as health, long-term care and education. The book uses a comparative approach as this better enables one to understand one’s own country's welfare, as well as helping to underline and see the linkages to the impact of global and regional issues on welfare states and their development. Finally, the book presents challenges and future perspectives for welfare states and their development.

The book’s focus on core concepts and the variety of international welfare state regimes and mechanisms for delivering social policy provides a much-needed introduction to the rapidly changing concept of welfare for students on social policy, social studies, sociology and politics courses.

part I|2 pages

Central concepts

chapter Chapter 1|11 pages


chapter Chapter 2|17 pages

What is welfare?

Some basic concepts

chapter Chapter 3|30 pages

Welfare states and welfare regimes

part II|2 pages

State, market and civil society

chapter Chapter 4|16 pages

The state

chapter Chapter 5|16 pages

Financing the public sector

chapter Chapter 6|11 pages

The role of the market

chapter Chapter 7|24 pages

The labour market

employment and unemployment

chapter Chapter 8|19 pages

Civil Society

part III|2 pages

Equality and specific groups’ positions in the welfare states

chapter Chapter 9|19 pages

Poverty, equality and inequality

chapter Chapter 10|19 pages

Different groups’ positions in welfare states

part IV|2 pages

Core social policy areas

chapter Chapter 11|12 pages

Health care

chapter Chapter 12|9 pages

Long-term care

chapter Chapter 13|11 pages

Pensions – important in old age

part V|2 pages

New ways and international perspectives

chapter Chapter 14|14 pages

New ways of steering the welfare state

chapter Chapter 16|10 pages

Is there a future for the welfare state?