Family and the Welfare State in Europe
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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.
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Chapter 3: Research Design

Agnes Blome, Wolfgang Keck and Jens Alber


Our comparison of four strategically selected European countries aims to tie macro-level information about variations in the forms welfare states take to micro-level information about the living conditions, relationship patterns, and attitudes of different generations. We are striving for a dual synthesis of different research traditions that thus far have been primarily thematically focused and undertaken by specialists. One of these traditions has investigated the link between the analysis of institutional change(s) and the development of living conditions of specific social groups. The other has investigated the connection between group-specific living conditions and attitudes towards the welfare state. Our interest lies in bridging a gap that currently exists between political ideas for reform that are largely independent of comparative empirical evidence, and the isolated investigations by specialists that are rarely oriented toward discussions of social policy reforms. We wish to contribute to the empirical anchoring of current social policy discussions. Germany, seen in comparative perspective, is the focus of our investigation. The comparison with other European countries is intended to bring into perspective what is unique about the German case, but is also meant to characterize the strengths and weaknesses of the German model in international comparison. The selection of countries accords with the typology of welfare state regimes ordinarily used in the literature: liberal, conservative-corporatist, social democratic, and Mediterranean types (Esping-Andersen 1990; Alber 2002; Arts and Gelissen 2002). Italy we take as representative of the supposedly particularly ‘pension-heavy’ Mediterranean-type welfare system that is based on the subsidiarity principle...

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