Historical Phases of Welfare State Development

  • Ingmar J. Schustereder


Pierson (1998) measures the development of the advanced capitalist welfare state according to the following three criteria: the stages of social insurance legislation, the expansion of citizenship to grant male universal suffrage and eventually universal adult suffrage, and the growth in public social expenditures relative to GDP (pp. 103-104). Following this analytical framework and reviewing prior research (Alber, 1982, pp. 56-69; Barr, 2004, Chapter 2; Flora & Alber, 1981, pp. 48-57; Heclo, 1981, pp. 386-387; Pierson, 1998, Chapters 4 and 5), the author identifies four discrete time periods of modern welfare state development: the genesis of the welfare state (1870-1918), the interwar period of consolidation (1918-1945), the “golden age” of expansion (1945-1975), and the period of structural adjustment in the era of globalization (from 1975 onwards). Before analyzing in detail each of these four stages, the author briefly sheds some light on the prehistory of the modern welfare state.


Welfare State Social Democratic Party Interwar Period Historical Phasis Bretton Wood System 
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© Gabler Verlag | Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden GmbH 2010

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  • Ingmar J. Schustereder

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