chapter  9
12 Pages


After the collapse of communism, the Western welfare state came under sustained attack. It was represented as a reformist version of its Eastern cousin and accused of suffering from guilt by association. Political analysts demanded that social democrats stopped clinging to the welfare state as a disguised version of the failed Soviet experiment. One of the favoured explanations for Soviet failure was the system’s inability to provide work incentives. It was argued that human beings have a natural desire for repose and an aversion to work. This disposition was suppressed during most of human history when work was accepted as an unpleasant but unavoidable evil; a necessity to ensure survival. The emergence of communism and the Western welfare state, however, untangled the age-old relationship between work and subsistence making it possible for an ever increasing number of ‘lazy scroungers’ to live off other people’s efforts. This book set out to refute or validate the claim that Westem-style welfare provision seriously undermines work incentives.