Since the early 1990s, European welfare states have undergone substantial changes, in terms of objectives, areas of intervention, and instruments. Traditional programmes, such as old age pensions have been curtailed throughout the continent, while new functions have been taken up. At present, welfare states are expected to help non-working people back into employment, to complement work income for the working poor, to reconcile work and family life, to promote
gender equality, to support child development, and to provide social services for an ageing society. The welfare settlement that is emerging at the beginning of the 21st century is nonetheless very
different in terms of functions and instruments from the one we inherited from the last century. With this book, we want first to gain a better understanding of the welfare settlement that is emerging in early 21st century Europe. Second, we are interested in the factors that have shaped the recent transformation. Our focus is on finding out what are the mechanisms and trajectories that lead to the new welfare settlement.