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The Welfare State and Education: A Comparison of Social and Educational Policy in Advanced Industrial Societies

GPS, Vol. 2 No. 1, (2002)

In their work on the development of welfare states in Europe and America, authors like Peter Flora and Arnold Heidenheimer (1981), Hugh Heclo (1985), and Francis Castles (1989) argued that there exits a trade-off between government investment in public education versus spending for social policy. We explore this "trade-off" thesis and the relationship between public education and social programs for 18 democratic industrial nations since the 1960s, with a special consideration of the German case. Our results indicate a strong association between educational policies and social programs in these nations and we find evidence of a “trade-off.” More specifically, the types of welfare states Esping-Andersen (1990) describes - liberal, conservative, and social democratic - are correlated with particular profiles for educational policy. Certain types of welfare regimes exhibit a tendency to choose between educational opportunities or social insurance programs as alternative policy strategies.

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