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Welfare state

government promoting its people's welfare

A welfare state is a concept of government in which the state plays a key role in the protection and promotion of the economic and social well-being of its citizens. It is based on the principles of equality of opportunity, equitable distribution of wealth, and public responsibility for those unable to avail themselves of the minimal provisions for a good life. The general term may cover a variety of forms of economic and social organization. The sociologist T. H. Marshall described the modern welfare state as a distinctive combination of democracy, welfare, and capitalism.


  • The post-1945 European welfare states varied considerably in the resources they provided and the way they financed them. But certain general points can be made. The provision of social services chiefly concerned education, housing and medical care, as well as urban recreation areas, subsidized public transport, publicly-funded art and culture and other indirect benefits of the interventionary state. Social security consisted chiefly of the state provision of insurance—against illness, unemployment, accident and the perils of old age. Every European state in the post-war years provided or financed most of these resources, some more than others.
    • Tony Judt, Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945 (2005), p. 73
  • The vast sums spent by the State in maintaining pauper houses and in scattering alms during Ramzan and other holy days and joyous ceremonies, were a direct premium on laziness. Thus a lazy and pampered class was created in the empire, who was the first to suffer when its prosperity was arrested.
    • Sir Jadunath Sarkar, A Short History of Aurangzib. Quoted from Lal, K. S. (1999). Theory and practice of Muslim state in India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 5

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