Globalization and Welfare series
Edited by Klaus Armingeon and Michelle Beyeler
Klaus Armingeon and Michelle Beyeler THE SWISS WELFARE STATE – INSTITUTIONAL, POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC CONTEXT In international perspective, the development of the Swiss welfare state began early but became delayed thereafter. Only recently has it caught up with the typical continental welfare state. Swiss welfare state development began early with the government introduction of a factory law in 1877 regulating labour conditions, among them child labour and maximum working time. However, between 1890 and World War II, the expansion of the national welfare state was, to a large extent, stalled. This was mainly due to the failure of the governments to get major new laws accepted in popular votes. Using the three-fold classification of welfare states (Esping-Andersen 1990), until World War II, Switzerland could be classified as a liberal welfare state: there were many means-tested benefits, subsidies to private insurance instead of public schemes financed via compulsory contributions or taxes, and few universal schemes. By and by, Switzerland added other schemes to this liberal core. These can be classified as social democratic or conservative. The first pillar of the pension scheme, introduced in 1948, is social democratic: it is a general insurance for all citizens that covers the basic needs of pensioners. This scheme is highly redistributive since contributions are a direct function of income (except in the very high income brackets), while the variation of maximum to minimum benefits is only two to one. The second pillar of the pension scheme (effective 1985) is conservative: it covers employed people and...
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