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Why Welfare States PersistThe Importance of Public Opinion in Democracies$
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Clem Brooks and Jeff Manza

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780226075839

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226075952.001.0001

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The Question of Convergence

The Question of Convergence

(p.83) Chapter Four The Question of Convergence
Why Welfare States Persist
University of Chicago Press

Modern welfare states shape both individuals' life chances and the level of inequality in a society. North America, Western Europe, Australasia, and Japan are all capitalist democracies, characterized by the existence of private property and class inequalities. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, however, they are also welfare capitalist societies, making available a wide range of public provisions that include pensions, health care, unemployment benefits, child care, job training, and educational programs. While providing support through social policies, contemporary welfare states differ in important ways. The extent to which private property and labor markets govern the life chances of individuals varies with the generosity of welfare state policies. In Scandinavia, for instance, governments provide an encompassing array of benefits and services to citizens, and this establishes a safety net from childhood through old age.

Keywords:   welfare state, inequality, North America, Western Europe, Australasia, Japan, capitalist democracies, private property, social policies, labor markets

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