Post-War Welfare States in Europe
The term Welfare State refers to the concept that the government is responsible for the social and economic welfare of the people, thus expanding the role of the state beyond providing defence and maintaining law and order.
In 1942, the Report commonly known as the Beveridge Report was published in the United Kingdom which proposed a series of measures which the government should adopt to provide citizens with adequate income, health care, education, housing and employment to overcome poverty and disease which were the major impediments to general welfare.
After the War, the Labour party was voted into power in Britain. It promised to undertake steps to look after the people “from the cradle to the grave”. Legislation was enacted to provide comprehensive free health coverage to the citizens through the National Health Service and monetary benefits like old page pensions and unemployment benefits, childcare services and family welfare services. These are in addition to universal, free school education to all children.
The benefits can either be achieved through cash transfers, like old age pensions and unemployment compensation, or through free services. In addition, these countries also try to minimize economic disparities through progressive taxation by taxing the higher income groups at relatively high rates.