World War II had been a battle of ideologies: fascism versus democracy. Democracy won, but communism emerged as an alternative for countries that were once fascist. How did new democracies deal with the aftermath of World War II?
Remember the “economic miracle” brought about by the Marshall Plan the United States implemented? It spurred a wave of support for public welfare due to the increased economic growth. Europe had always been extremely progressive in terms of welfare (it even inspired the United States during the Great Depression), but when the economy suddenly stagnated, the people immediately criticized it and demanded welfare be limited.
Once the pinnacle of social welfare in the world, Europe slowly began to shun extensive welfare programs after WWII due to higher taxes.
Cradle-to-grave social welfare programs refer to government-supported programs that provide support and assistance to individuals from birth to death. These programs are designed to provide a comprehensive safety net for individuals throughout their lives, with the goal of ensuring basic needs are met and providing a minimum standard of living for all citizens. Some examples include universal healthcare, social security, childcare, education programs, and housing assistance.
The war had completely ruined Europe’s economy and most of the global economy. However, the people knew that welfare did a great deal for them in their time of need. As a result, social welfare and the budgets of European nations became a source of contentious internal debate for years to come.