The Welfare State and Beyond was first published in 1984. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.
The welfare state emerged in a number of industrialized countries after the First World War as a middle ground between capitalism and socialism. The aim of architects of the welfare state was to abolish the injustices and hardships that accompanied capitalism and to do so without wholesale social or economic revolution. Establishment of the welfare state created something close to euphoria among many observers; it was, it seemed, the answer to many, if not all, troubling social questions. But it eventually became obvious that this type of society was not immune to problems.
In The Welfare State and Beyond Gunnar Heckscher examines four Nordic countries—Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden—not to either criticize or defend the welfare state but to shed some light on a number of questions: Has the welfare state achieved what it attempted? Are the results generally held to be satisfactory? What important problems remain unsolved and what types of solutions have been proposed? Although Heckscher has been associated with the Conservative party in Sweden, his objective, clear-eyed analysis cites both the accomplishments of the welfare state and the troubling problems that still await resolution.