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Danish Center for Welfare Studies

The Cold War and the Welfare State in Western Europe

Authors: Klaus Petersen, Michel Mioni, and Herbert Obinger
Published: Chapter in "International Impacts on Social Policy - Short Histories in Global Perspective" edited by Frank Nullmeier, Delia González de Reufels, and Herbert Obinger. 2022. Palgrave Macmillan.

The Cold War and the growth of the welfare state constitute two major frameworks for understanding politics and society in post-war Western Europe. This chapter discusses how the Cold War shaped the development of welfare states in selected Western European countries in the first decades after 1945. It is argued that two mechanisms were important. First, social policies were used for securing mass loyalty and as an anti-communist strategy in Western Europe. Second, the Cold War strongly impacted political coalition-building in Western countries.

Find the chapter here (open access)