The term ‘fiscal welfare’ was coined in 1958 by Richard Titmuss who highlighted the fact that most welfare state scholarship restricted itself to the world of social welfare, that is the direct public provision of welfare, failing to analyse other sources of welfare, namely occupational and fiscal welfare, and how these three sources of welfare underpinned a ‘social division of welfare’ with important distributive and political consequences. Sixty years later, fiscal welfare still very much remains the ‘black box’ of the welfare state, despite its growing importance. This chapter opens this black box by defining fiscal welfare, situating it among other related concepts and highlighting its analytical strengths. It then argues that taking fiscal welfare into account is crucial for unveiling the distributive preferences and politics of state intervention for social policy purposes, for analysing some of the processes of welfare reform that are under way, or to better assess the distributive profile of a given welfare state.
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