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The Welfare State in EuropeEconomic and Social Perspectives$
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Pierre Pestieau and Mathieu Lefebvre

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198817055

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198817055.001.0001

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(p.1) 1 Introduction
The Welfare State in Europe

Pierre Pestieau

Mathieu Lefebvre

Oxford University Press

This introduction is devoted to the definition of the concepts of a welfare state, social protection, and social insurance, and to the different foundations, both normative and positive, underlying them. These foundations range from pure individualistic motivations to the Kantian norm, to pure altruism. This introduction discusses also the traditional trade-off between equity and efficiency that is the main concern when designing social programs. It also presents the issues to be covered throughout the fifteen chapters of the book. Finally, it concludes with what can be viewed as the main challenge of European welfare states, namely the mounting socio-economic divide.

Keywords:   altruism, constitutional approach, political economy, equity–efficiency trade-off, leaky bucket, market failure, merit good, social divide, veil of ignorance

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