Concept of government in which the state plays a key role in protecting and promoting the economic and social well-being of its citizens. It is based on the principles of equality of opportunity, equitable distribution of wealth, and public responsibility for those who lack the minimal provisions for a good life. The term may be applied to a variety of forms of economic and social organization. A basic feature of the welfare state is social insurance, intended to provide benefits during periods of greatest need (e.g., old age, illness, unemployment). The welfare state also usually includes public provision of education, health services, and housing. Such provisions are less extensive in the U.S. than in many European countries, where comprehensive health coverage and state-subsidized university-level education have been common. In countries with centrally planned economies, the welfare state also covers employment and administration of consumer prices. Most nations have instituted at least some of the measures associated with the welfare state; Britain adopted comprehensive social insurance in 1948, and in the U.S., social-legislation programs such as the New Deal and the Fair Deal were based on welfare-state principles. Scandinavian countries provide state aid for the individual in almost all phases of life.
Learn more about welfare state with a free trial on Britannica.com.
Branch of economics established in the 20th century that seeks to evaluate economic policies in terms of their effects on the community's well-being. Early theorists defined welfare as the sum of the satisfactions accruing to an individual through an economic system. Believing it was possible to compare the well-being of two or more individuals, they argued that a poor person would derive more satisfaction from an increase in income than would a rich person. Later writers argued that making such comparisons with any precision was impossible. A new and more limited criterion was later developed: one economic situation was deemed superior to another if at least one person had been made better off without anyone else being made worse off. Seealso consumer's surplus; Vilfredo Pareto.
Learn more about welfare economics with a free trial on Britannica.com.
Any of a variety of governmental programs that provide assistance to those in need. Programs include pensions, disability and unemployment insurance, family allowances, survivor benefits, and national health insurance. The earliest modern welfare laws were enacted in Germany in the 1880s (see social insurance), and by the 1920s and '30s most Western countries had adopted similar programs. Most industrialized countries require firms to insure workers for disability (see workers' compensation) so that they have income if they are injured, whether temporarily or permanently. For disability from illness unrelated to occupational injury, most industrial states pay a short-term benefit followed by a long-term pension. Many countries pay a family allowance to reduce the poverty of large families or to increase the birth rate. Survivor benefits, provided for widows below pension age who are left with a dependent child, vary considerably among nations and generally cease if the woman remarries. Among the world's wealthy countries, only the U.S. fails to provide national health insurance other than for the aged and the poor (see Medicare and Medicaid).
Learn more about welfare with a free trial on Britannica.com.
Between 1975 to 1987, Saudi developmental aid amounted to US$48 billion, second only to the United States of America. The ODA/GNP ratio averaged 4.2% over this period, well above the highest amount provided by Development Assistance Committee countries (the DAC average is 0.35%). The figure has also made it one of the most generous donor nations on a per-capita basis.
Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal pledged to rebuild a village in northern Syria which was inundated when a dam burst in 2002, killing more than 20. Waleed's investment firm, Kingdom Holding Company, said it was to "reconstruct the entire village of Zeyzoun and all its infrastructure of water, electricity, telephone and sewage systems".
After the Iranian earthquake, Saudi Arabia pledged more than $200,000 to the victims.
Saudi Arabia is the largest provider of aid to the Palestinian people. Since 2002, Saudi Arabia has given more than $480 million in monetary support to the Palestinian Authority, and has supported Palestinian refugees by contributing to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). Through the Arab League it has provided more than $250 million for the Palestinians, and pledged $500 million in assistance over the next three years at the Donors Conference in Dec 2007. Unlike aid from other nations, Saudi Arabian aid to Palestinians was not disrupted by the election of Hamas.
In the aftermath of the 2005 Kashmir earthquake, Saudi Arabia donated over US$3.3 million, more than any other country, and promised an additional $573 million, also the maximum amount of money pledged. Saudi Arabia also provided 4000 pre-fabricated houses to Pakistan through the Saudi Public Assistance for Pakistan Earthquake Victims (SPAPEV). The houses, which were to be equipped with all required facilities, cost over $16.7 million. The SPAPEV also distributed 230,000 blankets, 150,000 quilts, 10,000 ordinary tents, 2,500 special winterized water proof tents, 100,000 stoves, 100,000 food.
The Saudi government pledged $230 million to development in Afghanistan. It has also pledged $133 million in direct grant aid, $187 million in concessional loans, and $153 million in export credits for Pakistan earthquake relief.
The Saudi Joint Committee for the Relief of Kosovo used $5 million to finance projects in rehabilitation, foodstuffs, relief materials, educational and religious programs, sponsorship of orphans, health care programs and development. Freights from Jeddah took 400,000 liters of milk as well as 900 cartons of clothing, 1,000 blankets, 25 water cisterns, medical supplies and surgical appliances such as wheelchairs to Pristina. Saudi citizens donated $20 million to Kosovo in cash as well as food and medical supplies, and the Saudi Red Crescent sent medical volunteers.
In 2006, the Saudi government gave $10 million in aid to the horn of Africa, through the World Food Programme, of which Kenya received $2 million. Saudi prince Al-Walid bin Talal donated $1 million to help feed 3.5 million Kenyans during the drought.
There are many who view that Saudi aid is earmarked for Muslims and Muslim states. This view led a Saudi philanthropist to lobby the Saudi government to give £250,000 in aid used to purchase rice for Cambodian children.
Saudi Arabia was also criticized for giving too little in response to the 2004 tsunami, considering its large oil reserves. Al-Jazeera described its contribution (along with that of other gulf states) as "shameful."