The Cuban welfare state system

With special reference to universalism

Authored by: Carmelo Mesa-Lago

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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Cuba’s social welfare system is unique in Latin America due to the following characteristics: 1 (1) a public health care system that provides universal free services entirely financed by the state (there is no national health insurance); (2) an education system that is also public, universal, free and fully financed by the Treasury; (3) public (social insurance) contributory pensions mainly financed by state enterprises and the government with relatively small contributions from a minority of the insured; and (4) social assistance for vulnerable groups that lack social insurance coverage, also state-financed (there are no conditional cash transfer programs). Unemployment insurance does not exist; the government is promoting non-state employment and it pays a small compensation to unnecessary state employees that are laid off. Other social programs, not discussed herein for lack of space, are universal price subsidies to rationed goods gradually being dismantled, and state building of dwellings, as well as by the people with its own resources.

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