Financial crisis, public debt, risk of inflation, demography: The list of scenarios that threaten the welfare state is long and can be extended without difficulty. It raises the question as to whether, under these conditions, the welfare state still has a chance. Can social achievements be preserved given this critical situation? Does the state still have the ability to help the economically stranded and to protect against existential risks, all while creating incentives for companies to take entrepreneurial risks?
In a recently published volume “Die Zukunft der Wolfahrtsgesellschaft”, leading German economists deal with these social issues and therefore continue a tradition in German economics that began in the 19th Century: the search for a socio-political perspective that extends beyond economic development. A prominent place in this tradition is held by Hans-Werner Sinn, President of the Ifo-Institute, Director of the Center for Economic Studies (CES) and CEO of the CESifo GmbH. On March 7, 2013, he celebrated his 65th birthday. This commemorative publication is dedicated to him.
The authors illuminate the environment that threatens the welfare state from various perspectives and discover new facets that convey hope. Thus, they discuss how investments in education and labour, alongside social cohesion and national identity, can pave the way to prosperity and growth. They kindle consideration for how the historically successful German model, with an emphasis on the revitalisation of the welfare state as opposed to its demolition, can be developed. This volume aspires to be popular science, and, like the celebrated jubilee, intents to bring economic insights into a broader social discourse.
Kai A. Konrad is director at the Max Planck Institute for Tax Law and Public Finance and chairman of the Council of Scientific Advisors to the Ministry of Finance. Ronnie Schöb is professor at the Free University Berlin. Marcel Thum is professor at the Technical University of Dresden and head of the Ifo Institute in Dresden. Alfons Weichenrieder is a professor at the University of Frankfurt and editor of FinanzArchiv, a German journal for public finance.
Published: Campus Verlag, 2013, 250 pages.