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Spain, a 'via media' of welfare development

AutorMoreno, Luis
Palabras claveEstado del bienestar
Política social
Fecha de publicación2001
ResumenThe Spanish welfare state incorporates elements of both Bismarckian and Beveridgean traditions, and can be labelled as a via media with respect to other regimes of social protection. It combines universal and targeted access to services and benefits. The most relevant factor conditioning welfare development in Spain is the importance of decentralisation both at the level of planning and policy implementation. Decentralisation of social services has had much greater impact than privatisation. After a long hyper-centralist dictatorship (1939-75), a peaceful transition to democracy (1975-79), and an active involvement in the process of Europeanisation after its accession to the EEC (1986), Spain has undergone deep and far-reaching social transformations. In economic terms, Spanish development has been outstanding: in 1959 the Spanish GDP per head was 58.3 per cent of the EU average; in 1985, 70.6 per cent and, by 1998, 81.5 per cent. Spain would match the EU mean by the year 2025 if the annual ‘catching-up’ rate of 0.8 per cent were maintained. No other country in the group of the advanced industrial democracies has achieved a comparable rate of economic growth. However, economic problems, high levels of unemployment, a severe demographic imbalance and the abrupt decline of the traditional system of domestic care are now threatening the stability of the welfare settlement. This working paper analyses developments in social policy and welfare in Spain during the second half of the 20th century and examines current reforms and policy changes for the near future. In particular, it focuses on the process of devolution of powers to the regions (Comunidades Autónomas). It also examines changes in the areas of unemployment, pensions and the financing of social policies, which are regarded as having particular relevance to Spain’s welfare future. The development of the Spanish welfare system is a story of relatively successful expansion. It shows how sub-national government can play a leading role in welfare innovation.
DescripciónPublicado en P. Taylor-Gooby, ed., Welfare States under pressure, 100-122, Londres: Sage, 2001.
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