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Federalism and the Welfare State
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Book description

In this unique and provocative contribution to the literatures of political science and social policy, ten leading experts question prevailing views that federalism always inhibits the growth of social solidarity. Their comparative study of the evolution of political institutions and welfare states in the six oldest federal states - Australia, Austria, Canada, Germany, Switzerland, the US - reveals that federalism can facilitate and impede social policy development. Development is contingent on several time-dependent factors, including degree of democratization, type of federalism, and the stage of welfare state development and early distribution of social policy responsibility. The reciprocal nature of the federalism-social policy relationship also becomes apparent: the authors identify a set of important bypass structures within federal systems that have resulted from welfare state growth. In an era of retrenchment and unravelling unitary states, this study suggests that federalism may actually protect the welfare state, and welfare states may enhance national integration.


‘Social science is at its best when it questions conceived wisdom with rigorous empirical analysis. This is exactly what Federalism and the Welfare State does, and it does it very well, indeed, showing that decentralized polities do not necessarily imply weaker welfare states. Written by some of the World’s leading authorities, this book is a must for students of federalism and of the welfare state - an exceedingly important scientific contribution.’

Goesta Esping-Andersen - Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona

‘Federalism and the Welfare State is compulsory reading, not only for scholars who want to understand the history and dynamics of social programmes in existing federal states, but for policy makers who are struggling with the issue of social policy in the European Union - what role should the EU play in social policy? - and in decentralizing welfare states within Europe.’

Frank Vandenbroucke - Minister of Employment and Pensions, Belgium

'Pioneers the study of federal institutional arrangements and social policy making within the broader field of study concerning territorality and welfare. ... can be read with profit not only by students of federalism and the welfare state, but by anyone interested in the wider themes of both territorial dimension of power and the social development of our advanced democracies.'

Source: European Journal of Social Security

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