Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: May 06, 2010 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412958660 | Print ISBN: 9781412958653 | Online ISBN: 9781412958660| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Anna Marie Smith
The welfare state is a distinct form of governance established by Western capitalist societies during the 1930s and 1940s that combines the taxation of the wealthy with public investment in education, safety net entitlements, old age pensions, and the regulation of the market economy. For political theory, the welfare state raises questions about the relationship between the state, economy, and society, and about distributive justice. The classic liberals Robert Malthus and David Ricardo deviated sharply from their eighteenth-century forebears in the political economy field by displacing morally based policy prescriptions with visions of the market as a self-regulating sphere of instrumentalist profit seeking. Malthus held that the church and the government should not interfere with the “natural” trends in the “autonomous” labor market by providing “excessive” aid to the poor. In both Britain and the United States, relief for the needy during the nineteenth century was provided almost exclusively through ...