What is the Domain of the Welfare State?
The welfare state is at a crossroads. In western Europe, unemployment has trended upwards over the past two decades and many people are becoming increasingly unable to provide for themselves. Governments are finding it increasingly difficult to honor their commitments to the elderly through continued payment of retirement pensions. As the costs of health and education rapidly outpace tax receipts, European governments are reassessing their commitment to support a welfare state. Meanwhile homelessness, crime, and drug abuse are on the rise. In the United States, the term "welfare state" may be absent from the policy debate, but the issues aren't. Improving the quality of schooling, making health care affordable and available, and providing a social safety net — these have become matters of pressing US policy concern. And for the people of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, the problem of how to provide a cushion against economic uncertainties and inequities in the transition to free enterprise has taken on a crying urgency.
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