Welfare is defined as a condition of physical health, emotional comfort, and economic security. The term also characterizes the efforts of a society to help its citizens achieve that condition, and is used as a synonym for public assistance or other programs that provide for the economic and social services needs of poor people (Barker 1997). Welfare refers to government efforts that provide money, programs, medical care, food, and housing, for instance, to those who are poor. All countries differ, however, on how much they spend on welfare as compared to social insurance or the size of the overall economy (Garfinkel and Waldfogel 2001).
Typically, European countries have universal programs that provide free medical and hospital care, family allowances, and retirement pensions. The Scandinavian countries, such as Norway and Sweden, have extensive government programs; these are so comprehensive that poverty is considered practically nonexistent. Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom all spend large shares of their economies on the needs of the poor. Aid is provided by employers and families in East Asian countries, such as Japan, South Korea, and Singapore.
Less developed countries in Africa, Latin America, and Asia have lower overall budgets for welfare than other nations. South Africa, however, has one of the most developed social welfare systems, with a particularly comprehensive health care system. Uruguay has a well-developed welfare system. India and Sri Lanka provide smaller benefits and serve fewer recipients (Garfinkel and Waldfogel 2001).
Marriage and Family EncyclopediaOther Marriage & Family TopicsPoverty - Definition Of Poverty, Global Poverty, Measuring Poverty, Welfare Response, Categories Of Dependence, Weakened Families And Kinship Systems