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The Welfare State as Piggy Bank – Information, Risk, Uncertainty, and the Role of the State - Oxford Scholarship Online
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The Welfare State as Piggy Bank: Information, Risk, Uncertainty, and the Role of the State

Nicholas Barr


This book applies economic theory to the welfare state. Its core message is that the welfare state exists not only to relieve poverty and redistribute income and wealth (the ‘Robin Hood’ function) but also as a series of institutions that provide insurance and consumption smoothing (the ‘piggy‐bank’ function). The book develops three central arguments about the role of the state in industrial countries and also in post‐communist and middle‐income developing countries.

Keywords: consumption smoothing, education finance, imperfect information, insurance, medical insurance, pensions, risk, role of the state, student loans, uncertainty, welfare state

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2001 Print ISBN-13: 9780199246595
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003 DOI:10.1093/0199246599.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Nicholas Barr, author
Department of Economics, London School of Economics
Author Webpage