The term ‘welfare’ has been understood in a variety of different ways. Social security and pensions have often been seen as core areas of welfare provision (Esping-Andersen, 1990). However, ‘welfare policy’ can also be defined as covering all activities in which governments engage to promote the wellbeing of their populations, covering health, housing, nutrition and education, as well as income maintenance (Wilensky, 1975: 1). This chapter concentrates on income maintenance policies such as transfers, but also refers to other areas of welfare policy (including housing and family policy) where relevant. Education and health policy are considered in subsequent chapters.
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