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7 The Southern European welfare model

From the book De Gruyter Handbook of Contemporary Welfare States

Marcello Natili and Matteo Jessoula

Abstract

A growing corpus of literature has analysed the main features, modes of functioning as well as the logics of institutional reproduction and change of welfare (and welfare state) arrangements in the four countries clustered in the Southern European model of welfare (Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain). The chapter reviews such literature identifying three main phases of welfare state development in the last three decades: early-1990s-2007; the global crisis and Great Recession 2008-2014; a postcrisis period 2015-2019 - characterised by substantially different social challenges, policy responses and underpinning political dynamics. In doing so, it shows that SE welfare states deeply transformed in the last three decades, and yet maintained some core features that still differentiate them from the rest of European countries, as adopted reforms have only partially addressed its main weaknesses. Against such backdrop, the article outlines the main challenges for existing welfare arrangements in Southern Europe which mostly relate to: i) the need to fully develop welfare services in key policy fields such as childcare, labour market policies, long-term care; ii) reduce labour market segmentation and welfare dualism(s); iii) reconcile both pensions and healthcare sustainability with adequacy, and especially equity; iv) possible changes in welfare financing in order to effectively pursue these goals

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