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Expanding the Welfare State after the Golden Age: The Case of Switzerland
This paper analyses whether Switzerland has still expanded its social programmes after the end of the so-called golden age. Quantitative evidence points to this trend and ana-lysing reforms in pensions, health insurance, unemployment insurance and family pol-icy reinforces this conclusion, with the most important elements being the creation of mandatory unemployment and health insurance as well as occupational benefits within the Swiss pension scheme. Swiss family policy was clearly enhanced during the last 30 years, as were means-tested supplementary benefits for low income pensioners. Still Switzerland witnessed cutbacks, too, the best examples of which are the higher retire-ment age for women in both the first (state) and second (occupational) pillar of old age protection, substantial benefit reductions in unemployment insurance and higher co-payments in health insurance. All things considered, qualitative analysis however sup-ports the notion of welfare state expansion in Switzerland since the mid-1970s and clearly contradicts the “race to the bottom” approach. But expenditure growth does not only reflect an enhancement of social protection but also socioeconomic factors, mainly low economic growth rates during the period under scrutiny and a higher number of benefit recipients (mainly in unemployment insurance and pensions).
No. 028/2005
Julia Moser

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