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First, the welfare state is not a subject apart, but fits naturally into the framework of economic analysis. Secondly, the theoretical arguments support the existence of the welfare state not only for well known equity reasons but also - and powerfully - in efficiency terms.
Efficiency advantages and disadvantages are more finely balanced than with health care - one person's 'sign of a civilized society' is another's 'society is going to the dogs'.
We need a welfare state of some sort for efficiency reasons, and would continue to do so even if all distributional problems were solved.
So far as school education is concerned, many of the assumptions necessary for market efficiency fail, the main problems being imperfect information, imperfect capital markets, and external effects.
There is an efficiency case for an institutional welfare state.
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For I've read in many a novel that, unless they've souls that grovel, Folks prefer in fact a hovel to your dreary marble halls.
Charles Stuart Calverley
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