The French welfare state system

With special reference to youth unemployment

Authored by: Tom Chevalier , Bruno Palier

The Routledge International Handbook to Welfare State Systems

Print publication date:  January  2017
Online publication date:  January  2017

Print ISBN: 9781472449306
eBook ISBN: 9781315613758
Adobe ISBN: 9781317041085


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The main components of the French welfare system clearly reflect the Bismarckian tradition of social insurance: entitlement is related to employment status and conditional upon contribution record; most benefits are earning-related; financing is provided mainly by employers’ and employees’ contributions; and the social partners are heavily involved in management. From 1945 to the late 1970s, social policies have expanded as one of the important parts of the Keynesian compromise, which underpinned the “Trente Glorieuses.” Social spending was perceived as favoring economic growth and employment, social insurance transfers were seen as consolidating social integration and (occupational) solidarity and welfare state institutions as supporting social peace. Since then, all the economic, social and political functions of the social protection systems have progressively been called into question. After a long period of crisis and resistance, social programs are progressively being reformed in order to become more adapted to the new economic and social environment.

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