Gøsta Esping-Andersen

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Gøsta Esping-Andersen
Born (1947-11-24) 24 November 1947 (age 73)
Alma materUniversity of Copenhagen
University of Wisconsin–Madison
Known forWelfare Regimes • Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism
Scientific career
FieldsSociology, Comparative Social Policy
InstitutionsHarvard University
European University Institute
Pompeu Fabra University
ThesisSocial Class, Social Democracy and State Policy: Parity Policy and Party Decomposition in Denmark and Sweden[1]

Gøsta Esping-Andersen (pronounced [ˈjøstæ ˈespe̝ŋ ˈɑnɐsn̩]; born 24 November 1947)[2] is a Danish sociologist whose primary focus has been on the welfare state and its place in capitalist economies. Jacob Hacker describes him as the "dean of welfare state scholars."[3] Over the past decade his research has moved towards family demographic issues. A synthesis of his work was published as Families in the 21st Century (Stockholm, SNS, 2016).

Esping-Andersen is professor emeritus at Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona (Spain), and member of the Scientific Committee of the Juan March Institute and of the Board of Trustees and the Scientific Council at the IMDEA Social Sciences Institute, both in Madrid (Spain). He is a member of the American Academy of Social Sciences and the British Academy. He was awarded an honoris doctor causa from the University of Copenhagen in 2012. He is now a research professor at Bocconi University in Milan.

Major works[edit]

His major, most influential and highly cited book titled The Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism[4][5] was published in 1990 and it laid out three main types of welfare states, in which modern developed capitalist nations cluster:

  • Liberal
  • Corporatist-Statist
  • Social Democratic

It is important to note that these categories have little to do with the contemporary labels of American politics, and rather have much more to do with general political theory. The traditional examples of the three types of welfare states are the United States (liberal), Germany (corporatist-statist) and Sweden (social democratic).

Other sociologists and political scientists went on to apply his theoretical analysis to the real world. One such example is a book entitled Real Worlds of Welfare Capitalism, written by Robert E. Goodin, Bruce Headey, Ruud Muffels, and Henk-Jan Dirven.[6] While some critics claim Esping-Andersen's categories are becoming outdated, many political scientists are attracted by its intuitive simplicity.

In the past decade, his research has moved to demographic issues and in particular to the consequences of women's changing roles. He has developed a multiple equilibrium framework for the understanding of changing family behaviour. See in particular his Families in the 21st Century and Esping-Andersen and Billari (2015) and Retheorizing family demographic change. Population and Development Review (2015).


The evolving nature of welfare states often makes it difficult to categorize. Arguably, many welfare states have components from some or all typologies, making them more akin to points on a continuum rather than rigid typologies, a fact Esping-Andersen acknowledges in his writings.

According to French sociologist, Georges Menahem, Esping-Andersen's "decommodification index" aggregates both qualitative and quantitative variables for ”sets of dimensions” which fluid, and pertain to three very different areas. Similarly, Menahem has concerns regarding the validity of the index, and its potential for replication.[7]

In 1996, the Italian Social Scientist Maurizio Ferrera, further developed Esping-Andersen's Worlds of Welfare by identifying a fourth subtype of the welfare state model, the Southern European Model of Welfare.[8]



  • Esping-Andersen, Gøsta (1980). Social class, social democracy and state policy: party policy and party decomposition in Denmark and Sweden. Copenhagen: Institute of Organization and Industrial Sociology. ISBN 9788770341790.
  • Esping-Andersen, Gøsta; Zeitlin, Maurice; Friedland, Roger (1982). Political power and social theory: a research annual, volume 3. Greenwich, Connecticut: Jai Press Inc. ISBN 9780892322046.
  • Esping-Andersen, Gøsta (1985). Politics against markets: the social democratic road to power. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. ISBN 9780691028422.
  • Esping-Andersen, Gøsta; Rein, Martin; Rainwater, Lee (1987). Stagnation and renewal in social policy: the rise and fall of policy regimes. Armonk, New York: M.E. Sharpe. ISBN 9780873323901.
  • Esping-Andersen, Gøsta (1990). The three worlds of welfare capitalism. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. ISBN 9780069028573.
  • Esping-Andersen, Gøsta (1993). Changing classes stratification and mobility in post-industrial societies. London Newbury Park, California: Sage Publications. ISBN 9781849208253.
  • Esping-Andersen, Gøsta (1996). Welfare states in transition national adaptations in global economies. London Thousand Oaks, California: Sage. ISBN 9780857021861.
  • Esping-Andersen, Gøsta (1999). Social foundations of postindustrial economies. Oxford New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780198742005.
  • Esping-Andersen, Gøsta; Regini, Marino (2000). Why deregulate labour markets. Oxford UK New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199240524.
  • Esping-Andersen, Gøsta; Gallie, Duncan; Hemerijck, Anton; Myles, John (2002). Why we need a new welfare state. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199256433.
  • Esping-Andersen, Gøsta (2007). Family formation and family dilemmas in contemporary Europe. Bilbao Spain: Fundación BBVA. ISBN 9788496515352.
  • Esping-Andersen, Gøsta (2009). The incomplete revolution: adapting to women's new roles. Cambridge, UK Malden, Massachusetts: Polity. ISBN 9780745643168.

Esping-Andersen, Gosta Families in the 21st Century (Stockholm, 2016).

  1. ^ Esping-Andersen, Gøsta (1978). Social Class, Social Democracy and State Policy: Parity Policy and Party Decomposition in Denmark and Sweden (Ph.D.). University of Wisconsin-Madison. OCLC 705977095. ProQuest 302910232.
  2. ^ "Esping-Andersen, Gøsta, 1947–". Library of Congress. Retrieved 4 January 2015. pub. info sheet (b. 11/24/47, Naestved, Denmark; Ph.D., 1978, Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison, sociology; Dept. of Sociology, Harvard Univ., assoc. prof., Cambrdige, Mass.)
  3. ^ Hacker, Jacob (2005). "Policy Drift: The Hidden Politics of US Welfare State Retrenchment". Beyond continuity:institutional change in advanced political economies. Oxford University Press.
  4. ^ Esping-Andersen, Gøsta (1990). The three worlds of welfare capitalism. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. ISBN 9780069028573.
  5. ^ Esping-Andersen, Gøsta (1990). "4 the Three Political Economies of the Welfare State". International Journal of Sociology. 20 (3): 92–123. doi:10.1080/15579336.1990.11770001. hdl:1814/22934.
  6. ^ Goodin, Robert E.; Headey, Bruce; Muffels, Rudd; Dirven, Henk-Jan (1999). The real worlds of welfare capitalism. Cambridge, U.K. New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521596398.
  7. ^ Menahem, Georges (October 2007). "The decommodified security ratio: A tool for assessing European social protection systems" (PDF). International Social Security Review. 60 (4): 69–103. doi:10.1111/j.1468-246X.2007.00281.x. S2CID 64361693.
  8. ^ Ferrera, Maurizio (1996). "The 'Southern Model' of Welfare in Social Europe". Journal of European Social Policy. 6: 17–37. doi:10.1177/095892879600600102. S2CID 154404873.