The German welfare state system

With special reference to the old-age pension system

Authored by: Karl Hinrichs

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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Germany has been the pioneer nation in establishing social insurances as a variant of modern social policy. Otto von Bismarck is usually credited with this achievement because legislation on three social insurance schemes occurred between 1883 and 1889 when he was chancellor of the German empire. These schemes protected (industrial) workers against the risks of sickness, work accidents and disability/old age. Very soon, the institutional innovations in Germany became a source of transnational learning. They inspired policy makers to develop alternative solutions to mounting social problems mainly caused by industrialization and the broadening of wage labor (e.g. in Denmark and the UK). A number of European countries (first Austria and Belgium), however, largely followed the German exemplar and formed a cluster of Bismarckian welfare states (Palier, 2010).

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