Pub. date: 2007 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952613 | Print ISBN: 9781412905794 | Online ISBN: 9781412952613| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
The concept of a welfare state is difficult to define. In the simplest terms, it refers to a state that has assumed some responsibility for individual welfare through the provision of both income transfers and social services. Government provision of social programs includes pensions, unemployment insurance, invalidity and sick pay, social assistance, family assistance, parental leave, health care, care for the elderly and people with disabilities, employment services, specialized services (e.g., alcohol and drug treatment and foster care), and housing. The earliest welfare state developed in Germany in the late nineteenth century, when the Chancellor Otto von Bismarck extended health and social insurance benefits to workers. Today, most advanced industrial countries would be classified as welfare states, with social expenditure in 2001 accounting for an average of over twenty percent of Gross Domestic Product in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, according to OECD figures. However, many scholars ...