Ugo Ascoli

The Italian Welfare State and the Social Inequalities

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Since the 1980’s social inequalities in affluent countries have strongly grown. Many welfare regimes didn’t succeed to cope with the globalization processes, through a public policies reorganization and a welfare recalibration, while neo-liberist theories and the confidence in the market «invisible hand» dominated politics and the mainstream academic research. Also in Italy a structural delay in reforming and adapting the welfare state in a timely manner has been predominant, despite the new rules of international competition, the new shape of family demography and the new flexibility of the labour market. This has implied an increase in all the dimensions of social inequalities, especially since the start of the last crisis (2008). Against this background, this article introduces the issue 1/2020 of «Politiche Sociali/Social Policies» and its focus dedicated to the relation between the main features of welfare policies in Italy and their impacts on social inequalities. After a theoretical article dedicated to a close examination of the different ideas of equality emerging in the public discourse on welfare, six articles investigate the focus of this issue in several policy areas (pensions, anti-poverty programmes, health policies, family policies, long-term care policies, education), also advancing specific suggestions for a new welfare reform agenda that has become even more urgent recently because the coronavirus pandemic.


  • economic inequalities
  • social cohesion
  • Welfare state
  • social policy
  • Italy


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