Family and the Welfare State in Europe

Family and the Welfare State in Europe

Intergenerational Relations in Ageing Societies

Agnes Blome, Wolfgang Keck and Jens Alber

This insightful book explores the role of both the family and the state in shaping the living conditions of the young and old in Europe. It provides a comparative theoretical and empirical analysis of age-related policies and welfare arrangements in Germany, France, Italy and Sweden.

Chapter 10: Old and Young in the Welfare State – Lessons from International Comparisons

Agnes Blome, Wolfgang Keck and Jens Alber

Subjects: development studies, family and gender policy, social policy and sociology, ageing, comparative social policy, family and gender policy, welfare states


LEARNING FROM PRACTICES ELSEWHERE? THE DIFFICULTY IN TRANSFERRING ‘BEST PRACTICE’ MODELS 10.1 In this concluding chapter we wish to summarize how the four countries we examined have addressed the challenges posed by an ageing society. Two social policy dilemmas head the political agenda: 1) Given a growing imbalance in the respective sizes of older and younger age groups, how can intergenerational redistribution processes be ensured and made financially sustainable? 2) How can the gulf between the imperatives of increasing employment and productivity on the one hand and increasing fertility on the other hand be bridged? The exact allocation of obligations between family and state is of central importance in addressing these future challenges and will be stressed in the following. After synthesizing our findings, we ask in which direction recent welfare state reforms seem to be heading. Thus far, our country comparison has been structured such that all four cases are given equal weight in the analyses. Here, in contrast, we focus on the structure and development of the German welfare state. We wish, among other things, to establish where Germany stands in international comparison; reference to the other country cases are primarily to establish whether they permit ‘best practices’ to be identified and hence serve as models for reforms of the German welfare state. In this, it is worth considering which factors obstruct transferring solutions that have been arrived at in other countries to Germany. In addition, some clarification is desirable in order to establish whether Germany, seen comparatively,...

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