This book takes as axiomatic the fact that welfare states in the ‘mature democracies’ are changing. According to many observers, ‘globalization’ is somehow responsible for the development of different social policy alternatives in contemporary welfare systems and it is primarily this issue that will be considered in detail throughout this volume. However, the apparently simple relationship between ‘globalization’ and welfare regime change is of course nothing of the sort. For one thing, the nature and extent of global challenges are hotly contested and it is not clear that the – primarily economic – pressures involved have had the impact on welfare policies that globalization enthusiasts claim. Certainly, the argument here does not hold that welfare systems in the OECD are embarked upon an inexorable ‘race to the bottom’ in which rampant globalization forces once-autonomous nation-states to outdo one another in their efforts to cut social spending, maintain low interest and tax rates, and thus remain economically attractive for inward investment – a sort of economic beauty contest in which multinational corporations sit as judge and jury. Arguments of this nature will be examined in the course of this volume but, on the whole, they will be rejected in favour of an analysis that presents a more complex and mixed picture of the fortunes of contemporary welfare regimes.