Lecture 10.1

Welfare States in the OECD

Emmanuel Teitelbaum


What is the OECD?

Source: Wikipedia

Key Questions

  • What is the welfare state and how does it vary?
    • “Three worlds” of welfare capitalism
    • Reasons for three worlds
  • Gender and the welfare state
    • How do welfare regimes affect women?
    • Why are some more supportive than others?
  • Globalization and the three worlds
    • Will they endure?
  • How Do We Get to Denmark?

Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism

Definitions and Concepts

  • Welfare state–system of public benefits and services that address human welfare needs
    • Cash benefits
    • Services
  • Social rights—rights to the provision of basic services like education, health care, and a basic standard of living
  • De-commodification—state in which a person is not dependent on selling her labor power in the market to ensure her survival
  • Universalism —the degree to which everyone has an equal right to publicly provided benefits and services

Welfare State Regimes (“Three Worlds”)

  • Liberal—emphasize means tested social assistance
    • Anglo-American countries
    • Examples: U.S., UK, Canada, Australia…
  • Corporatist—ranked system of social insurance, emphasis on the family, narrow provisioning
    • Continental European countries
    • Examples: Austria, Germany, Switzerland
  • Social Democratic—universalistic, emphasis on full employment and broad provisioning (Nordic countries)
    • Examples: Denmark, Norway, Sweden

Social Spending in OECD

OECD Social Expenditure Update, 2020

Social Spending By Category

OECD Social Expenditure Update, 2020

Means Tested Benefits

OECD Social Expenditure Update 2014

Pillars of Social Democracy

  • Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven video

  • Three pillars of the Nordic model

    • Full Employment
    • Universal and Generous Welfare System
    • Organized Labor Market
  • Think about

    • How each pillar is important
    • How they work together to support the system

Origins of Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism

  • Where do the three worlds come from?

  • Esping-Andersen (pp. 146-148)

    • Labor unions and left parties only part of the story
    • Emphasizes “red-green coalitions”
    • Other factors
      • ethnicity
      • religion


  • OECD data

  • Explore various categories with a neighbor

  • How do spending patterns relate to “three worlds” concept?

Gender and the Welfare State

Gender and the Three Worlds

  • LMEs (Anglo-American countries): free market approach

  • Corporatist (Germany, Austria, Italy, etc): traditional, male breadwinner approach (historically, but recently more like Scandinavia)

  • Nordic SMEs (Scandinavia): transform gender relations; dual wage-earner approach

Scandinavian Policies

  • Universal public day care
  • Altered workday for parents
  • Increased parental leave
    • Men equally entitled
    • Norway example (46 weeks)
      • Men and women both get 15 weeks after birth of child
      • Women get 3 weeks before birth
      • Then they can divide up an additional 16 weeks between them
      • Can stretch total out to 56 weeks at 80% pay
  • Rationale: equality depends on changing men


  • Read this study, about family-friendly policies among wealth countries.

  • Countries without any requirement for paid maternity leave: Papua New Guinea, Swaziland, Lesotho, Liberia, the United States and some island nations in the South Pacific

  • How do we get to Denmark?