The Mixed Economy of Social Care in Europe

  • Costanzo Ranci
Part of the Nonprofit and Civil Society Studies book series (NCSS)


Most of the problems that Continental Western European welfare systems are currently facing derive from the lack of public programmes of social care. Responsibility for care is mostly unloaded onto families, that fulfil this responsibility either by ‘self-servicing’ or purchasing services on the private market. However, the new risk profiles that emerge in contemporary societies make it increasingly more difficult for families to satisfy their care needs by themselves.


Child Care Social Care Welfare System Sector Organization State Funding 
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  1. 1.
    Personal social service provision is actually considered by Gornick et al. (1997) as action designed to encourage the employment of mothers and more generally of women.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    One complementary strategy employed by some countries is to encourage the purchase of care services on the private market by means of tax benefits and other measures; this strategy, however, runs up against the limits to the expansion of the private market for providing these services, and in any case, ends up favouring higher income families.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    In these countries the third sector is actually concentrated in social services, accounting, on average, for 44 per cent of all non-profit sector employment (Salamon et al., 1999).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    This attention is beginning to have some echoes in the comparative literature on welfare, where the existence of a fourth sector, consisting of non-profit organizations, is now acknowledged alongside the state, the market and the family (e.g. cf. Esping-Andersen, 1999 ). On the political side, there are now various European countries in which the third sector is recognized by the state to be consulted when social care policies are defined.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    The considerable diffusion of these services allows to seek space and opportunities for the development of a third way to solve the dilemmas and difficulties with which social care policies are currently struggling, that goes well beyond the simple alternative between growth of state intervention and further overloading of the family.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    A more general typology made on the same basis and assigning even more importance to the degree to which responsibility has been removed from the family, is proposed by Esping-Andersen (1999), which follows the well-known distinction between the three regimes of welfare capitalism described in Esping-Andersen (1990).Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    The typology contains four models: (a) a state dominant model,in which both functions are performed by the state; (b) a dual model,in which both the state and the third sector duplicate both functions with little communication between them; (c) a cooperative model,in which the government funds and the third sector provides most of the services; and (d) a third sector dominant model,in which both functions are performed by the third sector. Most of the national cases, however, fall into the category of the dual or cooperative model, while the definition of only one cooperative model runs the risk of placing national cases that are very different, such as the United States and Germany, in the same category of model (Kuhnle and Selle, 1992).Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    This typology identifies: an integrated dependence model,characteristic of Scandinavian countries and of Germany and Holland, in which the services provided by the third sector are integrated into a more general and comprehensive welfare system; a separate dependence model,found in France and Italy, characterized by communicative and cultural distance between the third sector and the state; an integrated autonomy model,in which cultural affinity is accompanied by considerable operational and financial autonomy (in which none of the countries studied by the authors is included with the possible exception of the Netherlands); a separate autonomy model,characterized by cultural distance and financial independence, characteristic of Spain. The main problem with this tipology is the excessive concentration on relations between the state and the third sector and, again, the existence of cases that are more theoretical by than empirically verifiable.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    The theoretical framework the authors use to support their approach is the historical analysis by Barrington Moore (1966) on the origins of Fascism and democracy and the comparative theory of Esping-Andersen (1990) on welfare regimes.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    For example, the assignment of Italy to the social democratic model is difficult to justify, given the actual low level of state welfare spending.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Clearly, a classification of regimes on the basis of the amount of state welfare spending does not take account of the context in which the money is spent (in which sector and on what services), nor can it be considered a sufficiently representative indicator of the type of socio-economic embeddedness of the third sector.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    The typology proposed, as shown in Table 2.2, is based on data that is mainly incomplete. Precise information on the level of state funding of non-profit organizations that provide specific services is lacking. The typology that follows should, therefore, be considered as only suggestive.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    The fact that women work does not mean, of course, that they are free from responsibility at home to the same degree as men or their male partners. However, the rate of women in labour force clearly shows to what extent families can adopt a self-servicing strategy to meet the care needs of their members.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    See also the chapters on Italy and Spain in this volume.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Costanzo Ranci
    • 1
  1. 1.Politecnico di MilanoDIAPMilanoItaly

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