The working class and welfare: Francis G. Castles on the political development of the welfare state in Australia and New Zealand thirty years on

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    In his celebrated work of comparative policy, Francis Castles argued that a radical wage-earning model of welfare had evolved in Australia and New Zealand over the course of the 20th century. The Castles' thesis is shown to have two parts: first, the ‘fourth world of welfare’ argument that rests upon protection of workers; and, second, an emphasis on the path-dependent nature of social policy. It is perfectly possible to accept the second premise of the argument without the first, and indeed many do so. It is also possible to accept the importance of wage level protection concerns in Australasian social policy without accepting the complete fourth world thesis. This article explores the path of social democracy in Australia and New Zealand and the continuing importance of labour market regulation, as well as considering the extent to which that emphasis still makes Australasian social policy distinctive in the modern age. The argument focuses on the data and policies relating to labour market protection and wages, as well the systems of welfare and social protection, and the comparative information on poverty and inequality.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)668–691
    Number of pages23
    JournalSocial Policy and Administration
    Issue number6
    Early online date6 Oct 2013
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2013


    • social class
    • social democracy
    • welfare state analysis
    • Australia
    • New Zealand

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