The Road to a Distinct System? The Development of the Welfare State in the Czech Republic
Theory and Practice of the Welfare State in Europe in 20th Century: Ways to the Welfare State, edited by Emil Voráček, and Zlatica Zudová-Lešková, Prague: Institute of History, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, 2014, pp. 525-546.
28 Pages Posted: 31 May 2012 Last revised: 21 Aug 2014
Date Written: April 14, 2012
This paper assesses the development of the welfare state in the post-1989 Czech Republic, showing how differences from older EU member states can be explained in terms of the heritage of the communist past. The focus is on the immediate post-1989 period which is seen as crucial for shaping the new system. In contrast to the idea of ‘emergency welfare states’ with policy makers pragmatically reacting to new challenges, we show how the apparent pragmatism was shaped by the specific ideas of deservedness among the new elites. Our argument here is that the choices made can be explained in terms of the communist past, but it is not a matter of continuity in institutional forms. The key issue is the political thinking formed from past experiences. The term ‘political memory’ is often used to refer to how political forces create or manipulate interpretations of the past. Here the issue is rather one of how memories of particular experiences lead to interpretations of policies and hence policy preferences in a later period.
Keywords: welfare state, social policy, pensions, health policy, education, family policy, gender, unemployment protection, Czech Republic
JEL Classification: N34, J68, H51, H52, H53, H54, H56
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