Edited by Nicholas Ellison and Tina Haux
This chapter discusses key aspects of welfare state development in four Southern European countries: Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal. First, the chapter provides a brief historical overview of their political economies post-Second World War. Second, the authors critically review three approaches in comparative social policy literature starting with the studies that analyse Southern European welfare regimes as laggards of the conservative-corporatist world of welfare capitalism. Next, they review the studies that approach Southern European regimes as a separate world of welfare capitalism, with similar politico-historical legacies and welfare systems. Lastly, they review an emerging approach where Southern Europe is analysed as part of a distinct ‘world’ of semi-peripheral familistic welfare capitalism, similar to regimes in South East Asia and Latin America. The chapter ends with a discussion of the crisis of social reproduction in Southern Europe marked by the severe effects of austerity measures in the aftermath of the sovereign debt crisis. Five current and future challenges to social welfare in the region are explored: low fertility rates, high levels of poverty, high long-term unemployment, high household debt and the dual trend of high skilled emigration and high numbers of refugees and undocumented immigrants.
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