There is no single European social model due to
institutional differences based on politics, ideology and history. However, welfare
regimes in Europe tend to share general individualities that enable groupings
This has been attempted by the works of Peter
Hall and David Soskice in ‘Varieties of
Capitalism: The Institutional Foundations of Comparative Advantage’ and Gøsta
Esping-Andersen in ‘The Three Worlds of
Hall and Soskice argue for the presence of two different
social models: liberal market economies (LMEs) and coordinated market economies
(CMEs). Esping-Andersen focuses on three diverse regimes: liberal, conservative
and social democratic
These ‘typologies’ are endeavours to demarcate
the complex diversity in European welfare regimes, and thus, are subject to various
This essay will argue that
Currently, … is more convincing due to
However, over time globalisation will eradicate
the differences and there will be a convergence towards a more liberal market
economy with less welfare provision
The crucial differences between the three
regimes promoted by Esping-Andersen is rooted in the concepts of de-commodification
and social stratification.
The former refers to the extent to which one can
live without reliance on the market as welfare is provided by the state (de-commodified)
rather than the labour market (commodified). The later refers to the degree to
which the state reduces inequality.
In the liberal regime, there is low de-commodification
and low redistribution. It is common among the Anglophone countries, such as
USA and Australia, with a strong belief in the market providing the citizens.
Characterised by means-tested assistance, modest transfers and benefits focused
on low income and state dependents, this regime is founded upon the liberal
work ethic; citizens should be active in the labour market.
The conservative model, there is moderate de-commodification
but low redistribution, as entitlement is conditional on work performance and
financial contribution. In addition, the state is secondary to the family for
welfare provision; no childcare is provided as mothers are encouraged to stay
at home. This regime is found in countries like France, Italy and Germany according
The social democratic model, found mainly in Scandinavia,
focuses on high de-commodification and high redistribution, based on the
principles of equality and universality. Thus, it is characterised by high
quality benefit provision, high taxation and flat rate benefits, crowding out
market provision of services such as childcare.