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Welfare without the state

Europe's welfare states are squeezed between rising demand and the declining readiness of taxpayers to finance it. The result is big deficits, slow growth, and dissatisfaction with the welfare services on offer. Robert Skidelsky recommends a return to the liberal state: detaching welfare from public funding and reducing to 30 per cent the state's share in national income

By Robert Skidelsky   January 1996

There is widespread agreement that the welfare state needs to be drastically reformed?certainly slimmed down. Designed in the 1940s to protect weakened capitalist economies against the assault of revolutionary socialism, it is now under assault itself. Governments all over Europe are busy chipping away at entitlements and benefits built up since the war. Yet even minor cuts in welfare spending face huge political costs?as Alain Jupp? is discovering in France. The reason is that most people in Europe have come to rely on tax-financed welfare of one kind or other, and governments have failed to discover a political formula which…

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