chapter  2
21 Pages

The viability of the welfare state

Between 1945 and 1970, post-war peace allowed European nations to go through a social revolution. Population moved from rural to urban areas; employment shifted from agriculture to manufacturing and then to service industries; family patterns were fragmented; the possibilities of life were extended. Social policies were developed both to facilitate economic development and to protect citizens from its consequences. Pension, sickness and unemployment benefits were extended to most of the workforce. Education came to be seen as an individual right and a wise social investment. Social care previously entrusted to family or friends became part of state welfare. The rapid economic growth of most European countries produced higher earnings and consumption. These in turn were taxed, yielding higher tax revenues without any increase in tax rates.