~ TLW ~ Topics for Discussion ~ Page Two

~ Discuss with a teacher, in pairs, or in groups ~ Then share your results in a classroom discussion ~

1) To begin with, in groups or in pairs, select the questions you¡¯d like to talk about. 

2) Then, in pairs or in groups, ask questions and share ideas in your conversations .

3) Finally, share your ideas (as a whole) in a classroom discussion (with all pairs/groups).


For specifics, see TLW Classroom Lesson Procedures: Click here     Click to print QUESTIONS/QUESTIONS

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~ Topic Discussion ~ 207 ~ Welfare in Society ~

The Welfare State


Adapted from Wikipedia


A welfare state protects and promotes the economic and social well-being of its citizens. It is based on the principles of equality of opportunity, equal distribution of wealth, and public responsibility for those unable to give themselves the minimal provisions for a good life. The general term may cover a variety of forms of economic and social organization and government programs. T.H. Marshall identified the welfare state as a combination of democracy, welfare, and capitalism.


Modern welfare states include the Nordic countries, such as Iceland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Finland, which employ a system known as the Nordic model (see below). The welfare state involves a transfer of funds from the state to services such as healthcare, education, and food stamps. As well, it funds individuals directly as ¡°benefits¡±. These are regular monetary donations by the government in programs such as unemployment insurance, disability funds, and payments for unwed mothers. It is funded through the redistribution of taxes. Such taxation includes a larger income tax for people with higher incomes (called a progressive tax). This helps to reduce the income gap between rich and poor.


207Set ~ 1 ~

1) Do you think your country is a ¡°welfare state¡±?

2) Do you feel comfortable being ¡°on welfare¡±?

3) What problems could arise in a welfare state?

4) What new welfare programs could benefit people in your society?

5) What welfare programs in your society should be eliminated?

Adapted from Wikipedia


The Nordic model is described as a system of competitive capitalism with a large and successful workforce. The Nordic combination of providing a large amount of welfare and a culture of individualism has been the status quo for some time. Some economists have referred to the Nordic economic model as a form of "cuddly" capitalism. They contrast it with the more "cut-throat" capitalism of the United States, which has high levels of inequality and a larger concentration of people with higher incomes who pay fewer taxes. This helps to increase the income gap between rich and poor.


207Set ~ 2 ~

1) Can you give an example of cut-throat capitalism? What are tax shelters versus tax evasion?

2) Why are some governments against welfare?

3) Who decides which forms of welfare are available in your country?

4) How close is your country to the Nordic Model?

Adapted from Wikipedia


The article "The Nordic Model - Embracing Globalization and Sharing Risks" characterizes this system:

1) An elaborate social safety net in addition to public services such as free education and universal healthcare.

2) Strong property rights, contract enforcement, and overall ease of doing business.

3) Public pension plans.

4) Low barriers to free trade combined with collective risk sharing (helping weaker companies that can¡¯t compete in the global market place) which has provided a form of protection against the risks associated with economic openness in a global marketplace.

5) Little product market regulation (¡°Let the buyers decide.¡±). 

6) Lower levels of corruption (enforced transparency).

7) Higher percentages of workers belonging to a labor union.

8) A partnership between employers, trade unions, and the government. These social partners negotiate the terms of regulating the workplace among themselves rather than following terms imposed by law.

9) Public expenditure for health and education (see 1 above).

10) High taxation for most members of society.

207Set ~ 3 ~

1) Which ideas on the list do you agree with? Why?

2) Which ideas on the list do you disagree with? Why?

3) Give a simple explanation of an ideal welfare system for your country.


~ Follow up ~ Try to make some of your own questions regarding welfare.



The Nordic Model ~ One

The Nordic Model ~ Two

.docx                .doc

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