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Welfare state reform occurs in all advanced capitalist democracies, but it does not occur in identical ways, to the same degree or with similar consequences. In Comparative Welfare State Politics, Kees van Kersbergen and Barbara Vis explain the political opportunities and constraints of welfare state reform by asking 'big' questions. Why did we need a welfare state in the first place? How did we get it? Why did we get different worlds of welfare and do we still have them? What does the welfare state actually do? Why do we need to reform the welfare state? Why is reform so difficult, but why does it nevertheless happen? Can and will the welfare state survive the Great Recession? This book informs the reader comprehensively about the welfare state, while contributing to the ongoing debate on the politics of welfare state reform.