“Welfare State: A term that emerged in the 1940s to describe situations where the state has a major responsibility for welfare provision via social security systems, offering services and benefits to meet people’s basic needs for housing, health, education, and income. More recently, fiscal crises and the influence of libertarianism and other New Right ideas have led many Western democratic governments to make major retrenchments in welfare states.”
Excerpted from: Marshall, Gordon, ed. Oxford Dictionary of Sociology. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994.