Yet, the interrelationship between changes in a society’s social structure and its social policy is by no means explicit. There are two main reasons. First, although the starting point is that welfare state policies exist primarily to meet the needs of the population and that social structure to a great extent determines the scope of ‘welfare effort’, to use Wilensky’s (1975) wording, there are other factors that affect the shape the policies take, such as historical legacies, cultural preferences, economic development and political choices. Second, the direction of causality obviously goes both ways; developments in the social structure affect welfare state measures, but welfare state measures surely affect developments in the social structure. A careful analysis of the implications of trends in social structure should take both of these points into account. It then becomes obvious that to

draw unambiguous policy recommendations from demographic developments is not an easy task.