Ten ideal-typical worlds of welfare regimes and their regime characteristics

Authored by: Christian Aspalter

Routledge Handbook of the Welfare State

Print publication date:  July  2018
Online publication date:  June  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138631649
eBook ISBN: 9781315207049
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781315207049-28

 

Abstract

Looking back at the past three decades of welfare regime comparison has been exciting and most productive, not only for the scientific discipline of social policy, but also for a lot more related or neighboring sciences, like economics, political science, public policy, gender studies, sociology, social work, as well as medical science, to name just a few sciences that used and applied the findings of not only Gøsta Esping-Andersen, but also hundreds more scholars who have written all sorts of qualitative and quantitative studies based on the findings of Esping-Andersen or who have tried to rival the very same in one way or another.

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Ten ideal-typical worlds of welfare regimes and their regime characteristics

Looking back at the past three decades of welfare regime comparison has been exciting and most productive, not only for the scientific discipline of social policy, but also for a lot more related or neighboring sciences, like economics, political science, public policy, gender studies, sociology, social work, as well as medical science, to name just a few sciences that used and applied the findings of not only Gøsta Esping-Andersen, but also hundreds more scholars who have written all sorts of qualitative and quantitative studies based on the findings of Esping-Andersen or who have tried to rival the very same in one way or another.

Why exciting? Well, there was the initial proclamation by Esping-Andersen (1987a, 1987b) about ideal-types of welfare regimes. Then there was his best-selling publication of The Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism (1990), which however dropped the term ideal-types, but not the concept and theoretical framework thereof (cf. e.g. Arts and Gelissen, 2002). After that came an avalanche of quantitative and qualitative studies in myriad academic disciplines that built their work directly on Esping-Andersen’s or who were driven positively to search in different directions for greater and ever more useful truths that come from the application of welfare regime analysis (cf. the issue of gender and welfare state regimes in e.g. Lewis, 1992; Hobson, 1994; Sainsbury, 1999).

Later, a shockwave was induced by Scruggs and Allan’s study (2006) that replicated the publicly unavailable datasets which underlay Esping-Andersen’s 1990 book. First of all, numbers provided by Esping-Andersen (1990) were incorrect (with an apparent significant typo in the case of Japan, which fully reclassified the very same); also, all the numbers related to the pension system in the US, Canada and New Zealand were, due to their organizational and structural program design differences, completely underscored in terms of their effects on decommodification. Any scientist who reads Scruggs and Allan’s study (2006) thoroughly must be either shocked or have experienced an eye-opening moment at least. In addition, the numbers for Italy and Finland were inexplicably inaccurate in Esping-Andersen’s 1990 study according to Scruggs and Allan’s attempt to replicate the findings for the dimension of decommodification, which would have, must have, led to reclassifications – if all (and only) that matter were these very same numbers. In the words of Scruggs and Allan:

Based on those results, a large number of studies have taken EA’s [Esping-Andersen’s] empirical data as basic parameters for classifying cases and organizing research. One could probably cull hundreds of papers which are premised on discussing or comparing cases based on his indices.

(Scruggs and Allan, 2006: 69) Luckily, most studies that used the insights of Esping-Andersen’s Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism were not built on the quantitative data set forth by Esping-Andersen’s table in his famous decommodification index (1990) or his other quantitative data (which were based on publicly inaccessible datasets, and researchers were not able to replicate any of Esping-Andersen’s findings for some time). The most felt impact of Esping-Andersen (cf. Scruggs and Allan, 2006: 69) was that he promoted different types of welfare states – different families of nations that each developed a relatively unique, different type of welfare state system, or welfare capitalism as he coined it (not different kinds of social policies, as Titmuss (1974) outlined before him) (cf. Castles and Mitchell, 1991, 1993; Leibfried, 1992; Castles and Pierson, 1996; Ferrera, 1996; see also Mishra, 2002).

The core significance of Esping-Andersen’s works between 1987 and 1990 was the introduction of the theoretical concept and empirical method of ideal-types into the comparative social policy arena (cf. Arts and Gelissen, 2002; Meier Jæger, 2005; Aspalter, 2005, 2006; Scruggs and Allan, 2006).

The method of ideal-types was set up by Max Weber a long time ago (cf. Weber, 2014; Eliæson, 2002; Hekman, 1983). Ideal-types have the advantage of reducing myriad details in social policy (or in social sciences in general) which usually smother any useful conclusions long before they can be reached or soon thereafter (especially in social policy, since details are changing all the time).

With this extremely useful tool – setting up ideal-types and using them as a yardstick (or, more precisely, as a bundle of yardsticks) to measure social policy programs, social security systems and welfare state systems as a whole – one avoids running into thousands of details that in total are more hindering than helpful, as with every year they are changing, and new major social policies and welfare state reforms are conducted (especially now) almost every two years in most countries/regions.

In 1987, Esping-Andersen, no doubt, was already fully using the concept of ideal-types (cf. Esping-Andersen, 1987a, 1987b; Aspalter, forthcoming). In 1989, three ideal-types of welfare regimes were fully developed, and were published in The Three Political Economies of the Welfare State (Esping-Andersen, 1989), which highlighted a political economy and historical case study approach to set up and substantiate the, in fact, three ideal-typical welfare regimes which were referred to just one year later in the 1990 book, and to which some numbers were added.

Esping-Andersen’s breakthrough in comparative welfare research in the late 1980s inspired two streams of comparative research in welfare regime analysis. First, there was a big wave of research studies that resorted to the comparison of real types; that is, they lacked or did not want to apply ideal-types (e.g. Castles and Mitchell, 1991, 1993; Leibfried, 1992; Ferrera, 1996). Then, by the mid-2000s, more and more attention was given to the idea, theory and method of setting up ideal-types in comparative welfare regime analysis: see in particular Arts and Gelissen (2002), Meier Jæger (2005), Aspalter (2005, 2006, 2011), Scruggs and Allan (2006), Aspalter et al. (2009).

Ideal-type means prime example (or archetype). One employs ideal-types by matching a bundle of yardsticks that in each case exemplifies an ideal-type (a mental image in Weber’s words: cf. Weber, 2014). Ideal, in the Weberian sense, means matching a bundle of yardsticks that refer to the main characteristics (in our case) of a specific welfare regime model or type of welfare capitalism.

Each yardstick measures one particular key characteristic of the welfare regime in question. The researcher then tries, first, to match each specific set (ensemble) of characteristics of each welfare regime (or bundle of yardsticks), to a larger and smaller degree, to each special characteristic of the welfare state system at hand, and then, second, in total to the sum of all specific characteristics of the very same – which in both cases should be matched at least by and large (e.g. when eight or nine out of ten key welfare regime characteristics are matched relatively well) in order to support the theory or welfare regime hypothesis in question; or to negate the theory or welfare regime hypothesis (e.g. when only five or six out of ten key welfare regime characteristics are matched relatively well).

The set of key welfare regime characteristics, the bundle of yardsticks, does not have to measure exactly the same dimensions or key characteristics in all the cases involved. Each specific bundle of yardsticks may (and should) differ from others (following the scientific principle of parsimony).

It would not make sense, in short, to measure, for example, all these welfare regimes with each particular yardstick that has been or is used elsewhere (this would only result in very weak correlations, as this often leads to a meaningless too great a reduction of system complexity of the real world).

In contrast, it is best to use the most appropriate yardsticks for each case of ideal-typical welfare regimes (e.g. when it comes to comparing social security system designs), since this way fits the purpose of identifying ideal-types (it fits the scientific purpose). That is the means, method, as shown to us by Max Weber (2014).

Case study analyses are full of details and in-depth knowledge and data about all possible aspects of myriad welfare regime characteristics in place. Therefore, it is advantageous first and perhaps foremost (but certainly not only) to employ the findings of in-depth case studies from all over the world, as well as most of the developing (or not yet developed) countries.

There is plenty of work ahead, to test and if necessary to modify the existing ideal-typical welfare regime theories, with (1) ever more in-depth, comparative and historical case study analyses that also use a great many quantitative data, as well as (2) more quantitative research projects that try their best not to reduce reality too much in order not to lose too much substance of the total sum of real world welfare state system characteristics, and to provide replicable, reliable and meaningful data and findings (on how to devise and apply ideal-types in welfare regime analysis; see also Aspalter, forthcoming).

Esping-Andersen did engage in both streams of methodologies: first, historical case study analysis (e.g. Esping-Andersen, 1987b, 1989); then, and only then, did he set out to employ a quantitative dataset (mostly for marketing purposes of his earlier findings that used a political economy method and perspective) (Esping-Andersen, 1990).

Ten different ideal-typical worlds of welfare regimes

Within each family (regime) of welfare state systems there are a number of significant similarities. And, seen as a whole, there are major differences between these different families of welfare state systems, or worlds of welfare capitalism.

The reality of welfare state systems on the ground has also shown great institutional differences of major columns of welfare state systems (e.g. in the case of Anglo-Saxon countries) in the ideal-typical Neoliberal Welfare Regime. It turned out that the data provided by Esping-Andersen contained major mistakes and a regiment of strong biases (cf Scruggs and Allan, 2003, 2006, 2008).

On the contrary, Aspalter (2005, 2006, 2011, 2017b) has set up his own set of criteria, or welfare regime characteristics, that, when it comes to the Neoliberal Welfare Regime, identify: (1) a selective application and development of major social security systems; (2) a high degree of asset- and means-tested social assistance benefits; (3) a strong focus on workfare programs, and with it a focus on punitive social policy (based on taking away benefits, and following a strong paternalistic point of view, cf. e.g. Howard, 2003; and see Weidenholzer and Aspalter, 2008); (4) higher levels of wealth and income inequality; (5) low levels of vertical redistribution (Bismarckian social insurance systems that do not cover the entire population and/or private savings systems (e.g. k401s in the United States), and/or regressive tax codes that prevent overall vertical redistribution: cf. Howard, 1993, 1999); (6) low public investment (in relative and/or absolute terms) in healthcare and education of the population; (7) high levels of institutionalized poverty where poverty traps, savings traps and unemployment traps – caused by asset- and means-tested social welfare benefits and services (AMTs) – increase over time the extent and severity of poverty; (8) passive labor market policies (PLMPs, which only focus on unemployment benefits and unemployment insurance, but not on a regiment of active labor market policies); and, last but not least, (9) NGOs as well as companies run the brunt of welfare services (for key case studies analysis with regard to this welfare regime, see e.g. Aspalter, 2003a; Ebbinghaus and Manow, 2001; O’Connor et al., 1999; Kingfisher, 1996; Castles, 1996; Myles, 1996).

Even though there are very large differences in the institutional set-up of welfare state systems in the Neoliberal Welfare Regime, they are all allowed for and even wanted when it comes to the method and theory of setting up ideal-types (in the Weberian sense).

Only through looking at ideal-types can one possibly conclude that Anglo-Saxon countries form one particular model of welfare state system, since the social security systems of the welfare state systems under discussion are too different (cf. Castles and Mitchell, 1991, 1993; Castles and Pierson, 1996).

In ideal-typical welfare regime theory not all major characteristics have to be matched by each individual single case in point. However, what is even more advantageous when using ideal-typical theory and the ideal-typical method in welfare state system comparison is that we can now employ the principle of functional equivalence (Aspalter, 2005, 2006, 2011, 2017), which explains in a very straightforward manner that even when there are different social security systems in place (e.g. in the Anglo-Saxon countries), the overall effects of these systems in terms of low vertical redistribution and a crowding out of welfare state finances through the effect of the redistribution paradox are the same. Korpi and Palme (1998) found that if the middle class does not benefit (at all) from the welfare state system, it votes in bulk for right-wing or conservative political parties, or more right-leaning candidates, that aim to curtail welfare state benefits and general taxation. This is called the redistribution paradox.

The principle of functional equivalence (cf Aspalter, 2005, 2006, 2017b) tells us that it is not important how the money travels, as long as it arrives at the same place or is used in the same manner (or is put to the same purpose, e.g. to provide a roof over one’s head, or to feed oneself and one’s family).

In this case, it is very clear that the philosophy of neoliberalism – that blames the poor for being poor – not only informs social policy in Anglo-Saxon countries, but also that it is interwoven, for the most part, into every piece of fabric of the welfare state system, its columns, policies and programs. Hence, the author prefers to rename the Liberal Welfare Regime (as originally proposed by Esping-Andersen) with the more appropriate label of the Neoliberal Welfare Regime.

The second world of welfare capitalism or welfare regime is to be found in Scandinavian countries. Esping-Andersen (1990) referred to this welfare model several times in his 1990 book as the “Socialist” welfare regime. However, the name Social Democratic Welfare Regime has stuck with most welfare state experts and has found its firm place in the social policy classrooms around the globe. As a matter of fact, it is not historically correct (cf. Aspalter, 2001a; Baldwin, 1990), since it was the social-liberal agrarian party that set up the Swedish model. The Swedish social democrats for long favored a Bismarckian social insurance model, since it benefited the urban working class. The farmers on the contrary were interested in a universal social security system. The Royal Commission of 1884 set up the principle of universalism in Sweden; that is, five years before the inauguration of the Swedish social democratic workers’ party (in 1889).

An alternative term should be the Social-Liberal Welfare Regime, or Social Liberal-Social Democratic Welfare Regime. But, so long as the history is correctly understood and so long as the name does not overlap with names of other welfare regimes, and in order to remember the lasting positive effect of social democracy across Europe (and beyond), I choose here to keep (for the time being) the name that is most commonly used, i.e. the Social Democratic Welfare Regime.

Social democrats in Scandinavia as well as in continental Europe focused on increasing welfare states, pushing for more welfare wherever they could, not on shaping the welfare state system (which was done by the social liberals in Sweden in the 1880s, and by Bishop Wilhelm Emmanuel Freiherr von Ketteler starting in the 1850s, and later on, for example, by the Catholic Center Party and the Christian democrats in Germany; cf. Aspalter, 2001a).

Sweden, as well as all the other four Scandinavian welfare state systems (cf. e.g. Shalev, 1983; Esping-Andersen and Korpi, 1987; Olsson-Hort, 2008; Abrahamson, 2008), was and still is marked by (1) universalism in social security provision, by focusing on universal social insurance programs (where one system covers the entire country and population). The second major trait of social policy in the North of Europe constitutes (2) a strong emphasis on individualism, not familialism, in social welfare provision. Benefits are based on criteria related to each individual, not to their marital status or family condition. This is followed by (3) a strong focus on gender equality by providing soft-economy jobs (Esping-Andersen, 1990) for women, i.e. local governments hand out most of the jobs to women, to guarantee them secure employment and continuous employment before and after childbirth, as well as a smooth overall career path. No other ideal-typical welfare regime shares this characteristic of the Social Democratic Welfare Regime; hence this yardstick is especially reserved for the Nordic welfare regime. Also, (4) this welfare regime featured up until the early 1990s almost no emphasis on asset- and means-tested welfare benefits and services (AMTs). However, this changed quite considerably following the economic shock experience of the early 1990s. One may note that, due to the effects of relatively generous universal social insurance systems, there is still a significant lower reliance on AMTs in this part of the world, especially when compared to the neoliberal regime, but also, to some extent, to the continental European Christian Democratic Welfare Regime. In addition, the ideal-typical Social Democratic Welfare Regime in Scandinavia (5) features the lowest levels of income inequality in the world (but not wealth inequality, where Sweden and Denmark show remarkably high inequality in contrast to Norway and Finland, which are real equal societies; this is an outcome of historical legacies, where, for example, large landowners either kept their wealth from centuries ago or used it to become industrialists, or both). In addition, there is (6) high public investment in healthcare and education of the population (following a social investment strategy), (7) a strong focus on active labor market policies (ALMPs), and, very importantly, (8) social welfare services are mostly provided by government agencies, not by NGOs and not-for-profit companies either (cf. trait number 3). Ever since the 1990s, there is also (9) a new phenomenon of rising permanent youth unemployment.

Scruggs and Allan (2006) have found out that even in and around the year 1980 the Scandinavian welfare state systems of the Social Democratic Welfare Regime produce actually very similar welfare state outcomes (e.g. in terms of decommodification) when compared to its southern neighbor, the Christian Democratic Welfare Regime covering Western and most parts of Central and Southern continental Europe (e.g. Hemerijck, 2012). Ever since the dramatic events and strong welfare state system changes of the 1990s, the Scandinavian welfare state system has moved even closer to the performance and outcome of its continental counterpart to the South. But, again, when looking at the ideal-typical traits, one can still clearly catch the differences in the institutional logic and philosophy, as well as social security system design and policy strategies and service provision on the ground, between these two ideal-typical welfare regimes.

The Christian Democratic Welfare Regime, in ideal-typical perspective, has always, until now, (1) employed a strong emphasis on Bismarckian social insurance systems (which is, sadly but truly, the number-1-most-often-used form of social security system in the world, also strongly present in Latin America, the Middle East, Northeast Asia and Africa; cf. Aspalter, 2017a). Another most striking feature (2) is the dichotomy between social insurance systems on the one hand and asset- and means-tested social assistance and social services (AMTs) on the other. Even though it is not as prominent as in the case of the Neoliberal Welfare Regime, it is still to be regarded as (a negative) hallmark of the Christian Democratic Welfare Regime. Yet another not positive trait is (3) the strong emphasis on marriage and family status, and family conditions (that is, familialism), in granting welfare benefits, which causes many unwanted, and unforeseen, welfare-reducing and family-harming consequences (side-effects), especially, for example, in the tax system which favors single households, as well as in social assistance provision, which does the same. This welfare regime is also marked by (4) relatively positive outcomes in terms of income equality (and mixed results in terms of wealth equality), (5) high public investment in healthcare and education, (6) a strong focus on active labor market policies (ALMPs), (7) strong support stemming from religious NGOs and directly from church organizations (especially the Catholic church) in terms of social welfare and other social services provision, which not only cater to the poor (providing food and shelter), but also to the large middle classes by owning and running a large number of hospitals and educational institutions; and, in addition (8), for the most part, the highest levels of youth unemployment as well as general unemployment (with the exception of Germany, Austria and Switzerland that have built a unique brand of apprenticeship system, which guarantees quick entry and fast rise in the productive labor force, having focused to a great extent on technical education, especially also on high school and university level) (cf. e.g. Aspalter, 2017a, 2001a; Leisering, 2005; Maino, 2003; Revauger, 2003; Ebbinghaus and Manow, 2001; Hemerijk and Visser, 2000; Palier, 2000; Esping-Andersen, 1996; Van Kersbergen, 1994, 1995; Huber et al., 1993).

The fourth ideal-typical welfare regime, the Pro-Welfare Oriented Conservative Welfare Regime, spanning (but not including) all of East Asia (North and Southeast Asia), has developed its own brand of welfare capitalism (cf. especially Aspalter, 2005, 2006; but also Aspalter, 2001b, 2002a, 2002b; Ramesh, 2000, 2004; Goodman et al., 1998). One can portray the following hallmarks: (1) there is a strong emphasis in general on work-related social security systems, be it mostly Bismarckian social security systems in Northeast Asia as well as Mainland China and Taiwan, or provident fund-based or mixed systems in Southeast Asia, plus Mainland China and Hong Kong. (2) This is mostly paired with asset- and means-tested social assistance and social services (AMTs). (3) Another particularity here is, for the most part, the present and growing emphasis on a greater degree of universalism in social security provision in all of Southeast and Northeast Asia (apart from Japan). (4) This part of the world, like the continental and Northern European models, features a great deal of social investment by the government, particularly in healthcare and education, but on occasion also housing (Singapore, Hong Kong, and partially Malaysia). (5) Vertical redistribution is sought to be avoided and only limited to so-called productive economic sectors, healthcare and education, and in some exceptions housing. (6) This particular modicum of welfare capitalism achieves mediocre to relatively-high levels of income inequality, but relatively low levels of wealth inequality (where Singapore achieves greater wealth equality than e.g. France, Sweden and Denmark, the leading welfare states in Europe; cf. WK, 2017). (7) PLMPs are dominant, apart the prominent case of South Korea, which features a very strong active labor market program. (8) NGOs are carrying the largest share of the burden to provide social welfare services, which more often than not are heavily financed by the government, particularly in Hong Kong, Mainland China, but also in South Korea, Taiwan and elsewhere. (9) This welfare regime can take pride in having resulted in relatively low levels of youth unemployment and general unemployment.

A number of welfare state experts have called this a productive or productivist welfare regime, or some kind of developmental welfare regime that is, seemingly, based on a leading principle of productivism (cf. Holliday, 2000; Kwon, 2005). However, this is already being reflected in the social investment paradigm, which is also followed, for example, by the two major European welfare regimes: the Social Democratic and the Christian Democratic Welfare Regimes.

It is true that social policy was designed to support economic growth in East Asia, but one cannot say that was not the case also in Australia before the late 1980s (Castles and Mitchell, 1991, 1993; Carney, 1994; Castles and Pierson 1996; Howe and O’Donnell, 2003), in Austria (Pelinka, 2001) or in Sweden (Olsson-Hort, 2014). Hence, the attributes of “productive” or “developmental” also perfectly fit Australia (before 1990), as well as Austria and Sweden (especially after 1945). For this reason, the author has abstained from using such labels in the case of the East Asian welfare regime.

It is a rather general trait of social policy to support economic policy and economic growth. Every social spending is also part of GDP, so economic growth measured by GDP is the result of every social spending, especially as investments in education and healthcare exercise positive ripple effects in economic growth and development. Thus, from an economic and a social policy point of view, it does not make a great deal of sense to highlight this as a special trait in the case of East Asia, or as the overarching specialty of the East Asian welfare regime (cf. Holliday, 2000; Kwon, 2005).

It was political competition in new democracies, the concurrent rise of strong social movements, or the political need to guarantee social harmony (the absence of strikes and revolts) that led to a change of heart of formerly welfare-opposed conservative politicians and parties, or communist politicians and parties that strictly follow conservative economic ideals (since the early 1980s in Mainland China) (Aspalter, 2001b, 2001c), which, sooner or later, starting from the mid-1980s, tilted towards a positive view on social policies, especially those that were not directly vertically redistributive social policies (redistributing directly from the rich to the poor). This resulted in new forms of social security provision, with a blend of Bismarckianism, universalism, as well as mandatory provident fund systems, and greater public investment in healthcare and education (and housing).

The case of Latin America – the Anti-Welfare Oriented Conservative Welfare Regime – may be characterized as resembling, or in actual fact being, a historical mix of the Christian Democratic Welfare Regime in Europe and the Neoliberal Welfare Regime in Anglo-Saxon countries. The assassination of socialist President Allende in Chile in 1973, directly or indirectly by an American secret agency, marked a watershed in the political history of Latin America, leading to Latin America becoming a testing ground for neoliberal ideas. Today, these neoliberal ideals, as empirical data clearly show, have not only totally failed to improve, but in fact have also resulted in a two-decades-long decline or stagnation in economic growth and social development. Welfare state systems of this Anti-Welfare Oriented Conservative Welfare Regime exhibit in general: (1) a mix of (a) Bismarckian social insurance systems that mostly only cover the middle classes, the better off, (b) mandatory or voluntary private insurance systems, and (c) mandatory or voluntary provident fund systems; as well as (2) an extremely high degree of fragmentation of the system of social assistance and social service provision; (3) a strong emphasis on asset- and means-testing in social assistance and service provision; (4) one of the highest levels of income and wealth inequality in the world; (5) widespread and severe levels of institutionalized (state-managed) poverty; (6) PLMPs; (7) a strong reliance on religious NGOs in social welfare and other social service provision; (8) high levels of long-term unemployment, i.e. high shares of the population are permanently out of the workforce; and (9) in most countries under this welfare regime there is a significant lack of appropriate housing conditions (see especially Aspalter, 2011; also e.g. Aspalter, 2017c, 2017e; Martínez, 2017; Garay, 2016; Hujo and Rulli, 2014; Mesa-Lago, 2017; Borzutzky, 2002, 2005; Farias, 2003).

The welfare regime that covers most of Africa (the former non-British colonies), the Ultra-Rudimentary Welfare Regime, exhibits also a number of welfare regime characteristics that, when looked at in total, sets it apart from all other ideal-typical welfare regimes (cf. especially Aspalter, 2017b; Mkandawire, 2016; Miller, 2015; Dixon, 2013; Cerami, 2013; Adesina, 2007). (1) Most welfare state systems in this part of the world are extremely rudimentary, distinguishing them from other rudimentary welfare state systems around the world. (2) The welfare state systems were set up to protect the urban middle class and regime supporters, featuring Bismarckian social insurance traits, while only covering a tiny percentage of the population. They are designed to protect and support the élite of the country only, depending on (3) government subsidies, the in-built tax advantages and the overall generosity of the benefit catalog of this Bismarckian social insurance system. This means an upward (regressive) redistribution from the general public to the better off. (4) These welfare state systems also feature the highest mortality rates (e.g. neonatal, infant, under-5s, maternal and overall mortality rates) in the world. (5) Also, one finds the highest levels of income and wealth inequality in the world in most of these welfare state systems, as well as (6) the highest levels of poverty, and (7) the highest levels of de facto unemployment in the world. (8) Housing and sanitation conditions are the worst, seen from a global perspective. (9) There is an extremely high degree of fragmentization of welfare and social service programs, making coordination and effectiveness and efficiency thereof very difficult if not impossible to achieve. (10) Social welfare and other social services are provided by private NGOs and particularly also international NGOs and IGOs.

South Asia, on the contrary, generally reveals this set of welfare regime characteristics that mark the Slightly Universal Rudimentary Welfare Regime (cf. especially Aspalter, 2017d; but also Z. Singh, 2013; S. Singh, 2008; Kumar, 2005; Aspalter, 2003b): (1) The social security system, in terms of provident fund systems and insurance systems, caters for a relatively minor part of the population. Despite the still rudimentary set-up of the welfare state systems, (2) there is also a growing emphasis on the provision of universal social benefits and services (be it medicines, healthcare services, employment or education). (3) In addition, the governments are increasingly applying a public social investment strategy, especially when it comes to furthering social development via public investment in education and healthcare services (and a relatively wide range of free-of-charge pharmaceuticals, as in the case of India). (4) This welfare regime is marked by very high levels of income and wealth inequality, (5) still very high levels of poverty, (6) high levels of mortality, (7) and also extremely bad housing and sanitation conditions (which cause higher levels of mortality). (8) South Asia as well is haunted by an extremely high degree of fragmentation of welfare and social service programs (impeding their coordination and effectiveness and efficiency). (9) Social welfare services are provided by a great deal of religious NGOs, the local government (the Panchayati Raj in India, as well as its equivalent in neighboring countries), as well as country-wide projects funded by the central and state governments.

Welfare state systems in rich countries in the Middle East – the Exclusion-Based Welfare Regime – are built around or produce, for the most part, these common traits (cf. Aspalter, 2017b; Gal, 2017; Dixon, 2017; Craven, 2015; Aldosary et al., 2008a, 2008b; Rosenhek, 2003): (1) Bismarckian social insurance systems are highly developed, and have (2) a high degree of social exclusion of particular ethnic groups (Arabs in Israel, and non-Arabs on the Arabian Peninsula), (3) a heavy reliance on a foreign workforce that is excluded from the welfare state system, (4) generally very high levels of gender segregation (apart from Israel), (5) generally very high incidences of income and wealth inequality, (6) heavy direct investment in education and healthcare by the government, (7) by and large very high levels of youth unemployment, and, on top of that (8) religiously motivated donations support a large range and degree of social service provision by religious welfare NGOs.

In the North, the welfare state systems of most former Soviet Union countries form their own ideal-typical welfare regime: the Selective Rudimentary Welfare Regime in Northern and Central Asia (cf. especially Aspalter, 2017b; see also e.g. Kainu et al., 2017; Amagoh, 2017; Cook, 2010, 2013; Avdeyeva, 2011; Cerami and Vanhuysse, 2009). They distinguish themselves from those welfare state systems that belong to other ideal-types in sum in the following points: (1) a strong echo of socialist ideas continues in social security systems, but diversification is getting common across the region with more individual savings accounts, while there are also some elements of Bismarckian occupational divisions (in provision and/or funding), especially for military personnel; (2) the funding in the 1990s for social welfare systems has been eroded for the most part (due to an onset of neoliberal ideas in the “lost decade” of the 1990s, which was also the case in India and elsewhere). (3) A new selective focus on social security provision led to the continuation and/or establishment of greater degrees of welfare (e.g. for the elderly, children and pro-natal welfare programs in the Russian Federation, and healthcare in Kazakhstan). (4) Life expectancy (especially male life expectancy) was, and still is, extremely low in these countries, but it has been rising significantly in recent years, due to improvements in healthcare policy. (5) There are high levels of poverty, (6) high levels of wealth and income inequality, in addition to (7) high levels of long-term unemployment. (8) NGOs are relatively underdeveloped and the state still serves as the main social welfare and social service provider.

The tenth ideal-typical welfare regime – which was dropped by Esping-Andersen in his 1990 book, as he considered Hungary to provide a fourth ideal-typical welfare state model back in 1987 (cf. Esping-Andersen, 1987a) – is following the principles of state socialism or communism. Today, we do not talk about Hungary which moved back to its historical roots (as well as e.g. Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovenia; cf. Aspalter et al., 2009) to join the continental model, the Christian Democratic Welfare Regime.

In a global perspective it is a relatively small island nation, but Cuba is more than that. It is today the sole representative of the Communist/Socialist Universal Welfare Regime. All the Soviet bloc countries followed this model up until the fall of the Berlin Wall. China followed this model up until the 1980s, when it slowly began to dismantle its iron rice bowl system (which disappeared in the early 1990s; cf. Leung, 1994).

Cuba still exemplifies this Communist/Socialist Universal Welfare Regime (cf. especially Aspalter, 2017b; Mesa-Lago, 2017; Mesa-Lago et al., 2013) by providing: (1) universal employment and income security, (2) universal healthcare services, (3) universal education, and (4) high income and wealth equality. The welfare state system in Cuba is also marked by (5) widespread relative poverty of the population (which is the result of the lack of economic growth due to imposed trade sanctions by the US and the lack of a functioning market economy), (6) one of the lowest mortality rates in all of the Americas (with lower infant and under-5 mortality rates than e.g. the United States), (7) still the highest housing ownership rate in the world (close to 100 percent), (8) relatively poor housing conditions (due to sanctions and lack of one kind of market economy that works, which could be a socialist or a social market economy) when compared to Western countries, which are in fact to be classified as mediocre in global comparison, and (9) social welfare and other social services provided by the state are generally well developed and omnipresent (for a detailed summary of these ten ideal-typical welfare regimes, see Aspalter, 2017b).

Conclusion

In the world of social policy, after more than one and a half centuries of applied social policy in the field and less than that of social policy research in academia, we still mostly talk, discuss and care about the social policy of less than a billion people in Western countries, plus perhaps Japan when sticking to Esping-Andersen’s threefold classification of 1990.

Today, with a total world population of about 7.5 billion, the most poor and needy people of the world are being excluded from research and international comparison (more than 6.5 billion of them) – for the most part, that is. The method of setting up ideal-types and, with it, discussing, measuring and evaluating local, regional and national welfare state system arrangements, strategies and outcomes have to be applied for the benefit of social policy in the entire world, not just for the rich countries.

It is not convenient to let go of one’s old ideas, or simply to add new ideas and concepts, or welfare regime types to the stock of knowledge and research literature that one addresses in social policy courses or textbooks. However, it has to be done: for the sake of social policy, and of course with it the people living in poor developing and not yet (or non-) developing countries of this earth. It should be: one earth, one social policy.

Here, we have addressed the issue of setting up ideal-typical welfare regimes in most parts of the world, which now (cf. Aspalter, 2017b) for the first time span all the continents of the world, leaving behind a former Western-centered (or European-centered) worldview, for the benefit of gaining a truly global worldview (perspective and understanding) in the profession and academic discipline of social policy.

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