Social policy is closely linked to the notion of the welfare state.
What is the welfare state?
Two elements form the basis of the welfare state:
- The economic ideas of John Maynard Keynes.
- The social principle of solidarity
In Work for All in a Free Society, W. H. Beveridge, one of the thinkers and founders of the welfare state, reminds us that capitalism can be combined with solidarity.
Richard Musgrave, theorist of the welfare state, in The Theory of Public Finance attributes three missions to the state:
- The resource allocation function: spending for the community
- The function of income redistribution: reducing inequalities + economic efficiency (Keynes)
- The function of stabilizing the economy: fighting against economic imbalances
Poverty and wealth: definitions and chronology
Two institutions are responsible for covering risks:
- In the area of health, family and old age, it is Social Security (1946)
- In the field of work, it is Pôle emploi (2009)
These institutions are complemented by measures such as the RMI (1988) which became the RSA.
Qualities of social policyThese
arguments are rather to the left of the political spectrum: state intervention and redistribution.
Social policy helps to avoid risks and certain expenses, and thus removes the idea of saving too much as a precaution. This is good for the economy.
If growth is weak or even negative, benefits can support consumption. This is good for the economy.
Social policy flawsThese
arguments are more to the right of the political spectrum: liberalism.
It is very difficult to finance this social policy, especially according to these three criteria: in a recession, in a country with high unemployment, in a country with an aging population.
This social policy would encourage“idleness“. Simply put, what is the point of looking for a job if you are paid without working?