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The Main Differences Between European And North American Welfare States (Essay Sample)


Discuss the main differences between European and North American welfare states

Discuss the main differences between European and North American welfare states Name Instructor Institution Course Date The matter of the differences between the European and North American welfare states is one that has been subject to considerable debate. This debate has come about mainly because of a desire to develop an understanding concerning how and why these welfare states have developed very differently over the years. While they have a similar history and common values, the Europeans and North Americans have developed welfare systems that are vastly different based on their own beliefs and needs. This paper seeks to discuss the differences between the European and North American welfare systems. One of the most significant differences between the European and North American welfare states is the level of national income that is involved. It is noteworthy that Europeans have sought to build large welfare states, which is in contrast to that of North America, which is less generous. The result is that European countries end up spending a significant amount of their income on welfare, especially when it comes to unemployment insurance and labor market programs aimed at cushioning their citizens against any adverse effects of the economy (Alesina & Glaeser, 2006). It is noteworthy that Europeans tend to have more regulations over their economies than the North Americans to such an extent that they are able to protect their workers against the interests of business. The regulations that Europeans have placed on their labor markets have ensured that there is the development of means through which to bring about the achievement of the goal of worker or employee protections to a level that can be considered alien in North America. These regulations have ensured that the cost of firing employees is not only much higher in Europe, but workers are also mandated to have longer paid vacations, and have shorter work hours every week than in North America. It is also significant to consider that In Europe, taxes tend to be much higher and more progressive than in North America. The result is that there is an added redistributive system in Europe that allows their governments to spend more on welfare (Esping-Andersen, 2013). Moreover, the pension laws in Europe are also more generous because they allow the citizens to retire early, and this is often extremely generous to those individuals that work in public service. Full pensions are provided for individuals in their late fifties, meaning that they do not have to work as long as their North American counterparts. Moreover, labor unions in Europe have more power than in North America to such an extent that despite moves towards changing the latter system into one that reduced generous pensions, these unions provide stiff opposition which have to be put into consideration by European governments (Woodruff, 2016). The latter governments have often ended up falling because of attempts to reform pension schemes and welfare; meaning that it has become pertinent for them to adhere to the demands of labor unions in order to survive (Mandelkern, 2016). This contrasts to North American labor unions, which have for the most part been paralyzed due to government intervention on behalf of business interests. North American welfare states have for the most part been influenced by their governing institutions. For example, the United States, which is the dominant economy, has been influenced in its view of welfare by its majoritarian electoral system, which has considerable checks and balances that hinder the passage of laws that could radically expand the welfare system (Hacker & Pierson, 2010). Furthermore, it is essential to consider that Congress is not often controlled by the party that is sitting in the White House, meaning that there is always a conflict of interest between these two entities (Bartels, 2008). In addition, the constitution of the United States is one that puts a lot of stress on the protection of property rights, meaning that there is often a limit to the role of government. The latter can be contrasted to that of Europe, which, as a result of the wars and labor uprisings that plagued it in the 20th century, rewrote constitutions in such a way that they promoted the ideals that supported the labor movements, as well as the creation of a generous welfare state (Crouch, 2009). In addition, in Europe, left-leaning parties, with friendlier policies towards welfare, have often come to power, which is not the case in North America, where right-leaning parties tend to be elected. Ethnic heterogeneity has also had an influence on the development of the North American welfare state. The ethnic diversity of North America has ensured that the governments within it see no need to redistribute the national wealth. This is not the case with Europe, which consists of nation-states with homogenous populations (Hopkin, 2017). The result is that there is constant pressure in Europe to redistribute because it is one of the best ways through which to bring about social stability. It also ensures that there is the development of larger welfare states aimed at protecting the citizens of the European countries against potential economic problems. The considerably smaller investment in welfare in North America can be considered a result of the heterogeneity of its population because there is gre...
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