This report summarizes the three-year programme investigating the social contract and the modern welfare state. It provides an overview of social contract theory and a history of its evolution over the last century, as it is used to inform welfare policy by governments in various parts of the world, including Scandinavia, Latin America, the UK and the United States.
This policy brief argues that the traditional social contract has fragmented, unable to stand firm in the face of multiple centrifugal pressures. It suggests that labour markets now operate in the absence of an overarching institutional structure that satisfactorily balances employee demands for decent work with employer demands for organizational efficiency and flexibility.
In the United States, ’welfare‘ and the politics of welfare – cash assistance for families, generally female-headed single-parent families with children – have been treated as a separable realm of policy, and too often as synonymous with all of anti-poverty policy.
In the new society, the individual and the family are subject to substantial increases in uncertainty in the economic environment. These are caused by globalization, technological changes, shifts in global power structures, and developments in labour and family relations.