The welfare state is in hard times, according to today's consensus. The deterioration of exceptional ecomic performance - the basis for the 'Golden Age' of welfare capitalism - seems irreversible: this has slowed down welfare state expansion and radically shifted the ground for discussion on the future of the welfare state. This volume takes stock of 'the state of the welfare state': How can we build a theory of the welfare state? How did the post-World War II welfare state relate to ecomic development? How do welfare states change? How did the reforms of pension systems - a key welfare state sector - develop in OECD countries? How did the most developed 'Nordic welfare state' fare? How viable are today's advanced welfare states in the international ecomy? How may we recast the European welfare states for the twenty-first century?