Handbook of Social Capital
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Handbook of Social Capital

The Troika of Sociology, Political Science and Economics

Edited by Gert Tingaard Svendsen and Gunnar Lind Haase Svendsen

The Handbook of Social Capital offers an important contribution to the study of bonding and bridging social capital networks, balancing the ‘troika’ of sociology, political science and economics. Eminent contributors, including Nobel Prize winner Elinor Ostrom, explore the different scientific approaches required if international research is to embrace both the bright and the more shadowy aspects of social capital. The Handbook stresses the importance of trust for economies all over the world and contains a strong advocacy for cross-disciplinary work within the social sciences.
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Chapter 12: The Universal Welfare State

Bo Rothstein


Bo Rothstein What is a universal welfare state? The large body of welfare state research that exists has to quite some extent been a taxonomic enterprise. Scholars in this field have put at lot of effort into constructing an adequate conceptual map that captures the extensive variation that exists in how different industrialized Western states are doing ‘welfare’ and what differentiates the one social program from the other (Flora, 1987; Goul Andersen and Hoff, 1996; Korpi and Palme, 1998; Rothstein, 1998; Swank, 1998; Kuhnle, 2000). Many scholars have come to single out the four Nordic countries as a special type of welfare state that has been labelled as ‘the universal welfare state’ (Esping-Andersen, 1990). By this is meant that there is a broad range of social services and benefits that are intended to cover the entire population throughout the different stages of life, and that the benefits are delivered on the basis of uniform rules for eligibility. A typical example would be universal childcare or universal child allowances that are distributed without any form of meanstesting (that is, no individual screening is carried out). Universal health care or sickness insurances are other examples. This type of welfare policy may be distinguished from selective welfare programs that are intended to assist only those who cannot manage economically on their own hand. In a selective program, the specific needs and the economic situation of each person seeking assistance have to be scrutinized by some administrative...

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