Sociology Index

Welfare State

T.H. Marshall, distinguished among sociologists, described the modern welfare state as a necessary and desirable combination of welfare, democracy, and capitalism. The welfare state covers a variety of forms of economic and social organization, helping to reduce the income gap between the rich and poor. During the Great Depression, the welfare state was placed between the extremes of communism and unregulated laissez-faire capitalism. In a welfare state government plays a key role in the protection and promotion of the economic and social health of its citizens. The welfare state is based on the principles of equality of opportunity, public responsibility and equitable distribution of wealth, for all those unable to avail themselves of the minimal provisions to lead a good life. The welfare state involves transfer of funds from the state, to the services like healthcare and education, and also directly to individuals called benefits. 

Modern welfare states includes Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, and Finland which employ a system known as the Nordic model. According to Esping-Andersen the most developed welfare state systems can be classified into three categories; Social Democratic, Conservative, and Liberal. Funded through redistributionist taxation referred to as a type of mixed economy. Such taxation applies a larger income tax for people with higher incomes called progressive taxation. Scott Fitzgerald, chronicler of American social class, famously confided to Ernest Hemingway that "the rich are different from the rest of us." "Yes," was Hemingway’s laconic reply. "They have more money."

Welfare State characteristics are unique. Some characteristics of welfare state are benefits while, some are not. These benefits are helpful for the development of any nation whereas the demerits of welfare state can hamper its functioning. It is now easier to get a general outline about the characteristics of welfare state by studying the advantages of welfare state, disadvantages of welfare state and also, the welfare state structure.