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.
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.
This report is intended to provide both a record and a critical assessment of the second workshop of the Foundation for Law, Justice and Society’s programme, The Social Contract Revisited: The Modern Welfare State. The workshop was held in Oxford, 10–12 October 2007.
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.