Contemporary welfare states remain in need of powerful policies aimed at protecting against new social risks, inclusion through work, and more equality in education and the labour market. Clearly, in less stratified societies, such as in Scandinavia, there is less scope for Matthew effects and these social policies are likely to be more effective.
Inheritance taxes have rarely ever contributed more than two per cent to the budget of any modern state. Nevertheless, in the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries some of the most vocal conflicts over taxation took place over inheritance taxes. This holds true for the United States as well as for many European countries. In the United States, estate taxation has been a topic of controversial political debate and will remain on the political agenda, at least until a decision has been made on what will happen to the tax after 2010.
This report and series of policy briefs emanate from a workshop held in Oxford in October 2009, in which political scientists and legal experts examine the impact of recent hard times on the social contract.
The issues are addressed from a range of perspectives, including measures for effective redistribution through social welfare programmes in Europe, loyalty benefits in the Middle East, and the need for a global social contract to encompass Africa and the developing world.