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The Generational Welfare Contract

Justice, Institutions and Outcomes Simon Birnbaum, Associate Professor of Political Science, Department of Political Science, Stockholm University and Institute for Futures Studies, Stockholm, Tommy Ferrarini, Associate Professor of Sociology, Swedish Institute for Social Research, Stockholm University, Kenneth Nelson, Professor of Sociology, Swedish Institute for Social Research, Stockholm University and Joakim Palme, Professor of Political Science, Department of Government, Uppsala University, Sweden
This groundbreaking book brings together perspectives from political philosophy and comparative social policy to discuss generational justice. Contributing new insights about the preconditions for designing sustainable, inclusive policies for all of society, the authors expose the possibilities of supporting egalitarian principles in an aging society through balanced generational welfare contracts.
Extent: 192 pp
Hardback Price: $110.00 Web: $99.00
Publication Date: 2017
ISBN: 978 1 78347 102 7
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  • Politics and Public Policy
  • European Politics and Policy
  • Public Policy
  • Social Policy and Sociology
  • Welfare States
This groundbreaking book brings together perspectives from political philosophy and comparative social policy to discuss generational justice. Contributing new insights about the preconditions for designing sustainable, inclusive policies for all of society, the authors expose the possibilities of supporting egalitarian principles in an ageing society through balanced generational welfare contracts.

Welfare states are largely structured around social risks that appear in distinct phases of human life, including childhood, working age and old age. By empirically analysing the causes and consequences of social policy in a large number of countries, the authors show that balanced generational welfare contracts – in which age-related social protection is more evenly distributed across different stages of life – is to the advantage of all age groups, therefore contributing to social justice and welfare state sustainability. The authors offer a combination of descriptive data analysis and statistical regressions to provide robust evidence that countries can avoid generational trade-offs in policymaking and find positive-sum solutions.

Appealing to academics, researchers and students of politics and social policy, The Generational Welfare Contract gives expert insight into the possibilities for success in future welfare states.
‘The Generational Welfare Contract provides an innovative conceptualization of social policy that is extremely well suited to the study of individual life courses and demographic change.’
– Elizabeth Thomson, Stockholm University, Sweden and University of Wisconsin-Madison, US

‘This deeply insightful book blends perspectives from political philosophy and comparative social policy to generate theoretical insights on generational justice to guide a nuanced empirical analysis of 18 economically developed OECD countries. It demonstrates the significance of the generational welfare contract, reflected in welfare state institutional structures, as a mediating factor linking demographic, socio-economic and political drivers with outcomes. Importantly, it incorporates a generational justice focus in welfare state analysis without downplaying other factors including social class and gender.’
– Julia O'Connor, Ulster University, UK

‘Adopting a life course perspective, this book is the first ever to systematically analyse the degree of generational balance in nations’ social policies. This is a fundamental issue, not only from a social justice perspective, but also for the political legitimacy and long-term sustainability of a welfare state. The Generational Welfare Contract is arguably the single most important welfare state study in our times. And it is one of those rare groundbreaking contributions that is destined to (re-)define social policy research for many years to come.’
– Gøsta Esping-Andersen, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Spain

Contents: Preface 1. Introduction 2. Three dimensions of generational justice 3. The generational welfare contract 4. Profiling the generational welfare contract 5. Contracts against poverty 6. Contracts for life satisfaction and happiness 7. Contracts for trust 8. Contracts for or against employment? 9. Politics of generational welfare contracts 10. The generational welfare contract on the agenda Index