Published ten years after the first edition, this new Handbook offers topical, and comprehensive information on the welfare systems of all 28 EU member states and their recent reforms, giving the reader an invaluable introduction and basis for comparative welfare research. Additional chapters provide detailed information on EU social policy, as well as comparative analyses of European welfare systems and their reform pathways. For this second edition, all chapters have been updated and substantially revised, and Croatia additionally included.

The second edition of this Handbook is most timely, given the often-fundamental welfare state transformations against the background of the financial and economic crises, transforming social policy ideas, as well as political shifts in a number of European countries. The book sets out to analyse these new developments when it comes to social policy. In the first part, all country chapters provide systematic and comparable information on the foundations of the different national welfare systems and their characteristics. In the second part, using a joint conceptual foundation, they focus on policy changes (especially of the last two decades) in different social policy areas, including old-age, labour market, family, healthcare, and social assistance policies.

As the comparative chapters conclude, European welfare system landscapes have been in constant motion in the last two decades. While austerity is not to be seen on the aggregate level, the in-depth country studies show that all policy sectors have been characterised by different reform directions and ideas. The findings not only reveal both change and continuity, but also policy reversal as a distinct type that characterises social policy reform. The book provides a rich resource to the international welfare state research community, and is also useful for social policy teaching.

part 1|18 pages


chapter 1|16 pages

Reform pathways of European welfare systems

Analysing change and continuity in a broadened geographical and temporal perspective

part 2|523 pages

Country studies

chapter 2|17 pages

Austrification in welfare system change?

An analysis of welfare system developments in Austria between 1998 and 2018

chapter 3|18 pages

Belgium’s welfare system

Still lagging after all these years

chapter 4|17 pages

The Bulgarian welfare system

Reforms and their effects on inequalities and vulnerable groups between 1997 and 2018

chapter 5|18 pages

The restructuring of the Cypriot welfare system

Will the new provision system prove to be a success?

chapter 6|19 pages

Hybridisation and diversification

Welfare system developments between 1993 and 2018 in the Czech Republic

chapter 7|19 pages

The German welfare system

The calm after the storm

chapter 9|19 pages

The welfare system in Estonia

Between liberalism and solidarity

chapter 10|20 pages

The Spanish welfare system

Towards a new social and territorial pact?

chapter 11|18 pages

Still holding its breath

The Finnish welfare system under reform

chapter 14|19 pages

The Croatian welfare system

A lack of coherent policy paradigm followed by inconsistent policy reforms? 1

chapter 15|19 pages

Pathway to a punitive workfare system


chapter 17|19 pages

The Italian welfare system

An incomplete transition?

chapter 18|17 pages

The Lithuanian welfare system over the last 20 years of democratic transition

Achievements, challenges, and future prospects

chapter 19|21 pages

Changes in Luxembourg’s welfare system (1998–2018)

Coalition governments and Europeanisation as major driving forces

chapter 20|19 pages

Social policy reforms in Latvia

Shift towards individual responsibility of welfare

chapter 21|20 pages

The Maltese welfare system

Hybrid wine in rightist bottles? With two-sided labels?

chapter 22|17 pages

The Dutch participatory state

Shift from a welfare system of collective solidarity towards individual responsibility in a participatory society

chapter 23|20 pages

Politics of welfare

The Polish welfare system in the first decades of the 21st century

chapter 24|21 pages

The Portuguese welfare system

A late European welfare system under permanent stress

chapter 25|21 pages

The Romanian welfare system

From the shadow of equality to the dazzle of dualisation

chapter 26|17 pages

The Swedish welfare system

The neoliberal turn and most recent struggles over decentralised top-down re-regulation

chapter 27|19 pages

Restructuring the Slovenian welfare system

Between economic pressures and future challenges

chapter 28|20 pages

The Slovak welfare system

From turbulent times to stability

chapter 29|20 pages

The United Kingdom

New devolved welfare systems in Britain

part 3|49 pages

EU social policy and comparative perspectives

chapter 30|15 pages

European Union social policy

Facing deepening economic integration and demand for a more social Europe with continuity and cautiousness

chapter 31|17 pages

The development of welfare state spending in the EU, 1995–2015

A quantitative comparative analysis

chapter 32|15 pages

Landscapes in motion

Welfare system reform in 28 European countries, 1998–2018