The Welfare State in Postwar Germany

  • Lutz Leisering


In this chapter I shall deal with the Federal Republic of Germany (1949–2003). Germany pioneered modern state welfare through the introduction of social insurance by Chancellor Bismarck in the 1880s, and as in other countries the German welfare state grew massively during the postwar decades and has been in crisis since the mid-1990s. The characteristics of the German welfare state include a broad political consensus; a ‘social market economy’ as a key integrative formula; corporatism and intermediate actors rather than the state proper as key actors; a federal system with a strong local government; little scope for private welfare provision; and with security rather than equality as its overarching aim. In this chapter I shall advance two theses: (1) that the socially fragmented systems of social insurance have developed into a quasi-universalist system of social security, amounting to a ‘centrist’ rather than a ‘conservative’ welfare regime (Esping- Andersen); and (2) that the German welfare state has changed considerably during the postwar decades, but in an evolutionary way rather than by radical reforms.


Welfare State Social Assistance Sickness Fund Welfare Regime Social Spending 
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Copyright information

© Lutz Leisering 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lutz Leisering
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of SociologyBielefeld UniversityGermany

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