Country Case Studies and Links


by Jamie Wingert



Three different traditions, Monarchy, Revolution, and Catholicism have shaped France. In the 1850's the church and the post-revolutionary government shared similar sentiments in the sense that the two institutions reinforced each other in an attempt to increase and strengthen the family. Napoleon III was the first to create the foundations for a family welfare system. In this time artisans and craftsman began to organize, forming associations and societies that allowed their members to take up funds for insurance purposes. France went through a period of conservative, paternalistic reforms because of its concern for population and the family.

The Popular Front in the 1930's was France's first left wing government. It expanded the public services to the poor. After WWII, the conservatives dominated France for thirty years and boosted both the state's central role and political pluralism. The state would set general guidelines to be implemented by the associations and local authorities.

France's Current Programs:

In summary, France is unique in the sense that its welfare state has been labeled "statist in style" because the welfare policy is formulated by the state; "corporatist in form" because associations implement welfare programs; and "pluralistic in practice" because of the diversity and loose central organization of associations.


Linda Hantrais. France: "Squaring the Welfare Triangle." In Vic George and Peter Taylor-Gooby (eds.). European Welfare Policy. Pg.51-70.

See also: MISSOC Country Tables