Adjusting to the Post-Industrial Era: How Has the Spanish Welfare State Performed?

Thursday, 2 July 2015: 2:15 PM-3:45 PM
TW2.1.02 (Tower Two)
Ana Marta Guillén, University of Oviedo, Oviedo, Spain
Sergio Gonzalez Begega, University of Oviedo, Oviedo, Spain
The Spanish welfare state is among those most affected by the international recession because of the sharp increase in social needs and, in parallel, the intense pressures towards the achievement of fiscal balances. Economic crises tend to reveal that social policies usually respond by allocating resources preferentially to those groups already receiving them, thus accentuating social inequalities and stratifications. The post-industrial period requires that welfare states of advanced economies pay attention to new social risks and to needs along the whole life-cycle in order to support economic growth and enhance competitiveness.  Hence this paper analyzes to what degree the Spanish welfare state had adjusted to the requirements of the post-industrial era prior to the onset of the financial and economic crisis and whether the reforms introduced henceforth went in the direction of such an adjustment.  We approach the analysis from a comparative perspective, especially with the other members of the Eurozone, but also, and most outstandingly, from the point of view of the trajectory undergone by the Spanish welfare state both in terms of retrenchment, rescaling and recalibration strategies and in terms of its capacity to redistribute and reduce social inequalities. The paper is organized as follows. First, the assessment is centred on the phase prior to the crisis in order to elicit how much effort was made in order to shift protection from old to new risks and re-arrange intergenerational social agreements. Second, developments during the crisis period are considered. The paper concludes by signalling achievements and shortcomings in the quest for re-balancing social protection in accordance to post-industrialism, by signalling the factors that allowed for or prevented path departure and by discussing prospects for the future.