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The early Cold War and the Western welfare state

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 March 2020

Klaus Petersen*
Centre for Welfare State Research, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark


This paper analyses possible links between the early Cold War and the Western welfare state. These have so far attracted far too little interest among both welfare state and Cold War scholars. The paper argues that the nature of the relationship between the Cold War and the welfare state is too complex to be formulated into a general theory and proposes a research strategy focussing on different mechanisms of interactions. It identifies and discusses four such mechanisms: The possible trade-offs between military and social expenses, the use of the Cold War in political and ideological debates on social reforms, social reforms as an anti-communist strategy, and finally how the Cold War influenced transnational social policy learning.

Research Article
Copyright © 2013 Taylor & Francis

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