Hybridisation and diversification

Welfare system developments between 1993 and 2018 in the Czech Republic

Authored by: Tomáš Sirovátka , Vojtěch Ripka

Routledge Handbook of European Welfare Systems

Print publication date:  December  2019
Online publication date:  November  2019

Print ISBN: 9780367259150
eBook ISBN: 9780429290510
Adobe ISBN:


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Born in Bismarckian fashion, struggling through a non-transparent and centralised authoritarian system to transform into a pluralist post-communist hybrid – in this chapter, the Czech welfare system is treated from its roots. The main focus is on the last 25 years, when its modern history started with the detached trajectory of the Czech Republic that became independent in 1993. The authors identify four distinctive periods, though disputing their inner consistency: the neoliberal continuity followed by a social-democratic turn, attempted neoliberal reversal, and recent pragmatic stabilisation. Policy changes that transform objectives (third order policy change) are found only in social assistance and unemployment policy, while path dependency prevails in other areas. The authors discuss the diversification in social services and family policy as an exceptional path transgressing the last three periods, which combines neoliberal consumer choice and liberal empowerment aspects. Generally, what prevails from the foundational years is a strong social consensus of keeping low unemployment while retaining high income equality. These goals are connected with remarkably effective poverty alleviation. How may this take place in a low expenditure welfare system? This paradox is explained by showing its downside – low wages and modest replacement rates of most benefits combined with high redistribution and a system light on services.

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