The modern welfare state is indeed one of the greatest achievements of the post-war 20th century. With its key aims of eradicating the five giant social ills of Want, Ignorance, Disease, Squalor and Idleness, it aimed to providing a minimum standard of living, with all people of working age paying a weekly contribution; in return, benefits would be paid to anyone who was sick, unemployed, retired or widowed. The modern welfare state, therefore, is about maintaining a delicate equilibrium between dependent social groups on the one hand and the active working classes on the other. In the case of old-age security, this balance is being achieved (or not) by the so-called Generation Contract. This social pact is more of an implicit, unwritten and unspecified social contract. This ground-breaking book demonstrates how countries are addressing population-ageing challenges in depth, using the case study of Austria to gain the required complexity and differentiation in a comparative European framework of empirical evidence. This is a broad social science study in political economy and sociology, not an economic analysis. Though focusing on pensions, it centres on the (im)balance between work and non-work, issues of health, work ability, employability, and benefit receipt from old-age security to disability allowance. It will be required reading for all sociologists and social policy experts and academics working within this area.
Bernd Marin is Executive Director of the European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research in Vienna, Austria.
'... this substantial volume is full of detailed and diagrammatic description of the demographic and financial situation faced by state pensions ... the book is of considerable interest, and it tackles some vital questions.' The Citizen's Income Newsletter 'A special mention in the book must be reserved for the beautiful and extremely useful graphics. Marin’s graphs can be read almost independently of the text and they convey very powerful messages ... I have ever seen such a list of illustrious welfare state theorists praising the book on the inside and back covers: Anthony Giddens, Claus Offe, Abram de Swaan, David Coleman, Martin Kohli, Stein Ringen. This implies that the book is a real event in the field. ... I agree with the evaluations of my illustrious colleagues: this is an important book in the scientific debate about pensions in developed societies. Time will show what its effects are.' Social Policy and Administration