ABSTRACT One issue in the debate on the welfare-state is whether state-care renders society more livable or not. The positive view is that people flourish in the welfare-state, the negative view is that people thrive better without. This article approaches the dispute empirically, by comparing livability of nations that differ in state-welfare-effort. The livability of nations is measured by the degree to which its citizens live long and happily. State-welfare-effect is measured by the scope of welfare-laws and the size of state-welfare-expenditures. Data on average appreciation-of-life around 1980 are available for 28 nations; mostly rich ones. Appreciation-of-life appears somewhat greater in the nations that provide most state-welfare. However, that difference is entirely due to parallel differences in economic affluence. Data on change in life-satisfaction between 1950 and 1980 are available for only 10 nations, all rich ones. Life-satisfaction did not increase more in the nations where state-welfare expanded most. Data on length-of-life in 1980 are available for 97 nations, of which 28 rich ones. Life-expectancy appears to be greater in the nations that provide most state-welfare, but again the difference disappears when income per head is controlled. Data on change in life-expectancy 1965--1985 are available for 35 nations. Gains in life-expectancy appear not greater in the nations were state-welfare expanded most. It is concluded that state involvement in welfare provision does not create a more livable society. Apparently, non-state welfare works out equally well in present day conditions.

cross-national, decommodification, equality, happiness, life satisfaction, quality of life, self-rated health, social security, subjective well being, trend over time
dx.doi.org/10.1007/BF01079395, hdl.handle.net/1765/16196
Social Indicators Research: an international and interdisciplinary journal for quality-of-life measurement
[A modern reissue of the text is also included in RePub]
Department of Sociology

Veenhoven, R, & Ouweneel, P. (1995). Livability of the welfare-state. Social Indicators Research: an international and interdisciplinary journal for quality-of-life measurement, 36(1), 1–48. doi:10.1007/BF01079395