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Danish Center for Welfare Studies

Warfare and Welfare

Warfare and Welfare: Military Conflict and Welfare State Development in Western Countries

Edited by Herbert Obinger, Klaus Petersen, and Peter Starke.
Oxford University Press, 2018

While the first half of the 20th century was characterized by total war, the second half witnessed, at least in the Western world, a massive expansion of the modern welfare state. A growing share of the population was covered by ever more generous systems of social protection that dramatically reduced poverty and economic inequality in the post-war decades. With it also came a growth in social spending, taxation and regulation that changed the nature of the modern state and the functioning of market economies. Whether and in which ways warfare and the rise of the welfare state are related, is subject of this volume.

Distinguishing between three different phases (war preparation, wartime mobilization, and the post-war period), the volume provides the first systematic comparative analysis of the impact of war on welfare state development in the western world. The chapters written by leading scholars in this field examine both short-term responses to and long-term effects of war in fourteen belligerent, occupied, and neutral countries in the age of mass warfare stretching over the period from ca. 1860 to 1960. The volume shows that both world wars are essential for understanding several aspects of welfare state development in the western world.


Table of Contents

1: Introduction: Studying the Welfare-War Nexus, Herbert Obinger, Klaus Petersen, and Peter Starke
2: The Impact of War on Welfare State Development in Germany, Peter Starke
3: War Preparation, Warfare, and the Welfare State in Austria, Herbert Obinger
4: Italy: Wars, Political Extremism, and the Constraints to Welfare Reform, Maurizio Ferrera
5: The Two World Wars and Social Policy in France, Timothy B. Smith
6: Welfare Policy and War in Japan, Gregory J. Kasza
7: Foreign Policy on the Home Front: War and the Fevelopment of the American Welfare State, Robert P. Saldin
8: War and the Development of the British Welfare State, David Edgerton
9: Reinforcements for the Wage-Earners' Welfare State? The Effects of the Two World Wars on Australia's Model of Welfare, Christopher Lloyd and Tim Battin
10: Wars, Nation, and the Welfare State in Finland, Pauli Kettunen
11: From Military State to Welfare State: The War-Welfare Nexus in Denmark, 1848-1950s, Klaus Petersen and Nils Arne Sørensen
12: Diverging Paths: The Impact of the Two World Wars on Welfare State Development in Belgium and the Netherlands, Dirk Luyten
13: War and Social Policy Development in Switzerland, 1870-1990, Matthieu Leimgruber
14: Bullets and Benefits in the Israeli Welfare State, Michael Shalev and John Gal
15: War and Welfare States Before and After 1945: Conclusions and Perspectives, Herbert Obinger, Klaus Petersen, Carina Schmitt, and Peter Starke


An ambitious inquiry into the historical relationship between war and welfare. Warfare and Welfare asks the big question about how wars affect welfare states, and answers it by comparing detailed case studies from over a dozen industrialized nations in the twentieth century. The contributors challenged themselves to examine interactions between more than one armed conflict and the entirety of the welfare state in each nation. While scholars will find many warfare-welfare interactions they identify familiar, theyâll find just as many to be new. And more importantly theyâll find novel questions to ask of their own research. This book will become necessary reading for scholars of war and of the welfare state." - Jennifer Mittelstadt, Professor of History, Rutgers University.

"Warfare and Welfare is one of those rare books which bring us path breaking research. The influence of wars on the evolution of welfare states has been discussed for decades, but has, so far, never been given any systematic empirical treatment. In this pioneering comparative study, the authors identify with impeccable scholarship the multiple and quite complex causal pathways that link the dynamics of war to welfare state development. It is a must-read for anyone even remotely interested in the history of social policies." - Gøsta Esping-Andersen, Professor of Sociology, Universitat Pompeu Fabra

"Though they seem like opposites, warfare and welfare are in fact kissing cousins. The argument of this masterful work is that war has not just drained the coffers that might pay for social programs, but also stimulated their growth and development: creating new groups requiring assistance (veterans and the wounded), prompting worries about demographic decline that needed intervention, raising expenses and taxes and thus potential sources of funding for other programs, empowering formerly unrepresented social classes whose needs commanded attention after the end of hostilities, stimulating the state to regulate the economy in new ways that could later be channeled into social policy." - Peter Baldwin, Professor of History, UCLA and NYU.

Last Updated 15.03.2024