European Welfare States Under Attack

Archive Report

Funding Crisis Across Europe

Austerity Arising From Economic Decline

With economies stagnating and unemployment at postwar highs, most of the Western European governments are facing hard and frequently unpopular decisions about austerity — extending even to the dismantling of some parts of their once-sacrosanct social-welfare programs. Virtually all of these countries are calling into question social-welfare standards that took decades to develop and that have successfully defused social discontent in the past.

Faced with rising bills for such programs as unemployment aid, family services and old-age pensions, the governments are looking for ways to limit the traditional patterns of growth in public services. In Europe these programs are far more advanced than in the United States, where President Reagan is engaged in a similar exercise of cutting ...

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