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Abstract

Accounts of the welfare state and the dynamics governing its development have been pivotal and highly contentious in the social policy literature over the past few decades. Since the 1980s, research has suggested that, as a result of domestic pressures and strains and/or the impact of globalization, welfare states were declining in tandem. However, most of these studies were quantitativefocusing upon 18 or more advanced capitalist nations and, in their search to uncover broad cross-national trends, utilized narrow welfare state indicators. This study investigates the extent to which the social democratic welfare state in Sweden, the social liberal welfare state in Canada, and the liberal welfare state in the United States have converged. It takes a qualitative approach, examining the character of the income security and social service programs in two broad policy domains-family policy and health care--and concludes that the welfare states in the three nations remain distinct, while acknowledging some broadly similar trends and new developments.

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