The welfare state is a political concept that has to do with a form of government in which the state, as its name says, is concerned with the well-being of all its citizens so that they do not lack anything, that their basic needs are met, providing them with what they cannot obtain on their own, thus assuming the services and rights of a large part of the population considered humble or impoverished.
It was imposed with greater force in the year 1945, after World War II, against a backdrop of great economic depression, workers’ struggles, social inequality and capitalist exploitation of the working class.
Analysts define it as a way to organize the state from the combination of a capitalist and democratic system , without forgetting to achieve social welfare .
pillars that support it
The pillars that support this idea are the provision of subsidies to these inhabitants in vulnerable situations, such as the unemployed and the elderly; the universal and free health care system; guarantee of education for all; distribution of wealth appropriately and consciously; in addition to providing decent housing.
The Welfare State is a very recent phenomenon that has had great momentum in various parts of the world in the 20th century, due to a series of economic crises, wars and conflicts of various types that have brought drastic and difficult consequences for the majority of the Western population. .
The idea of a Welfare State has existed since the mid-nineteenth century, when various social groups (especially workers) began to fight for the recognition of their rights at the international level.
Since then, and especially in the 20th century, from events such as the Great Depression of 1929 and the post-war periods after the First and Second World War, the idea of a State in charge of supplying these more humble or disadvantaged sectors emerged. certain services and assistance to complement what they cannot get through an unequal or unfair system like the capitalist system.
The theories of the British economist Keynes, who promoted state intervention to solve economic problems, are particularly established.
Keynes’ economic proposal has collected, since its appearance until the present moment, many criticisms that consider the problem as a means to be solved and that is aggravated when the expenditure by the state uses all the resources at its disposal, including spending more than it has in cash. .
Inevitably, this scenario leads to a very serious inflationary situation, from which the state is forced – unless it changes course – to issue more currency to meet the stipulated expenses.
However, Keynes is not to blame, as he had proposed that once equilibrium was reached, assistance should be restricted and interest rates increased , but it is clear that few political leaders wanted and want to assume the political cost of a measure of this type, reducing public spending and consequently subsidies, as it is obviously an unpopular measure and much more in times of electoral campaign.
The 1929 crisis was a major blow to capitalism because an important part of Western society fell into misery.
Given these circumstances, the development of a State capable of containing misery, poverty and hunger was a phenomenon of great importance and necessity.
For the Welfare State there are three elements that are relevant
Democracy, that is, the maintenance of non-authoritarian or autocratic political forms; social well-being, that is, the provision of economic and social assistance necessary for the progress of society; capitalism, since for the Welfare State, capitalism is not necessarily a problem, as it often establishes coexistence with itself.
Due to the important budgetary expenses that a State of this type can mean for a nation, it can be said that nowadays this political form has been somewhat discredited and tends to prefer systems that combine access to the public with an important private intervention.