welfare state


Definition of welfare state

1 : a social system based on the assumption by a political state of primary responsibility for the individual and social welfare of its citizens
2 : a nation or state characterized by the operation of the welfare state system

Examples of welfare state in a Sentence

supporters of the welfare state

Recent Examples on the Web

Sweden—an affluent and politically stable nation, known for its consensual politics and generous welfare state—is now entering uncharted territory. Dominic Chopping, WSJ, "Swedish Parliament Votes to Oust Prime Minister Stefan Löfven," 25 Sep. 2018 For generations, Christian democratic parties, notably in Germany and Italy, have blended support for free-market economics and moderately conservative social policies with left-leaning stances on issues like labor rights and the welfare state. New York Times, "Secure in Hungary, Orban Readies for Battle with Brussels," 11 May 2018 Absent a robust and respondent welfare state, protests have become a routine — and occasionally effective — means of social negotiation between citizens, workers and public officials. Chantal Berman, Washington Post, "Why do Tunisians keep protesting?," 19 Jan. 2018 What emerged was a blueprint for the modern welfare state. The Economist, "The welfare state needs updating," 12 July 2018 The rich aren’t rich enough to fund the modern welfare state’s ambitions, and their labor and wealth are too mobile to pin down in high-tax jurisdictions. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "All the Taxes in France," 7 Dec. 2018 When Ryan took over as speaker of the House, he was expected to unify the Republican party behind Obamacare repeal, tax cuts, and dismantling the welfare state. Tara Golshan, Vox, "Trump is more than happy to throw Paul Ryan under the bus," 31 Oct. 2018 After Ayatollah Khomeini’s takeover, the new state nationalized most major sectors and built elements of a welfare state, providing subsidies for fuel and university tuition. Sune Engel Rasmussen, WSJ, "As Iran Marks Its Anniversary, Economic Woes Cloud a Pitch for Unity," 10 Feb. 2019 European countries built up welfare states, and the countries of the global South demanded consideration of their economic needs. Patrick Iber, The New Republic, "How neoliberalism shapes the global economy and limits the power of democracies," 23 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'welfare state.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of welfare state

1894, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about welfare state

Statistics for welfare state

Last Updated

13 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for welfare state

The first known use of welfare state was in 1894

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for welfare state

welfare state


English Language Learners Definition of welfare state

: a social system in which a government is responsible for the economic and social welfare of its citizens and has policies to provide free health care, money for people without jobs, etc. also : a country that has such a system

More from Merriam-Webster on welfare state

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with welfare state

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about welfare state

Comments on welfare state

What made you want to look up welfare state? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


highly pertinent or appropriate

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Vocabulary Quiz Returns!

  • stylized drawing of woman pole vaulting across gap to get trophy
  • Which is a synonym of fuliginous?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!