A welfare state is one where the government plays a critical role in protecting and promoting its citizens' economic and social welfare. It’s based on the principle of equitable wealth distribution, public responsibility, and equality of opportunity for those who don't have minimal provision for a good life. While this is the primary meaning, countries adopt different ideologies when defining welfare states. Here are three of them.
An ideal model: countries adopting this ideology believe that a welfare state represents a perfect model of provision where the government accepts the responsibility of providing comprehensive and universal welfare for the citizens. Social protection: countries in Western Europe use this approach when defining welfare. According to them, welfare isn't the responsibility of the government only, but independent and autonomous public services too. State welfare: this definition is as simple as welfare provided by the state and is often adopted in the USA.
History of Welfare States
The U.S. and the U.K. are credited with introducing the modern meaning of welfare states. In the U.K., for example, the definition was based on the Beveridge Report, which advocated for the government to provide services once provided by trade unions, charities, and the church. The government has since adopted this system and continues to do it even today, despite the frequent restructuring and adjustments to keep it relevant. In the U.S., the term welfare culminated in the Great Depression, which caused job loss and misery for millions. The concept was a solution to the disparities between communists and capitalists.
Countries that use the welfare state concept include: the United Kingdom, France, Sweden, Italy, Belgium, Denmark, Findland, Germany, Portugal, Spain, Austria, Greece, Japan, Netherlands, Switzerland, Iceland, Kuwait, Israel, Slovenia, Australia, South Korea, Estonia, Latvia, Israel, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States.
The United Kingdom: The government uses the institutional model of welfare which is based on three principal elements- provision of services, social protection in case of insecurity, and a guarantee of minimum standards like minimum income. France: Its welfare ideology is greatly influenced by the principle of national solidarity, which is used differently. At first, the idea refers to having cooperation and mutual support, responsibility and shared risks. However, the French system of welfare seems to take on a different turn by focusing on four groups of people in society -- the elderly, the sick/incapacitated, families, and the unemployed. Sweden: The country provides the most basic needs to all its citizens and shows significant commitment to social equality