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The Welfare State as Piggy BankInformation, Risk, Uncertainty, and the Role of the State$
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Nicholas Barr

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780199246595

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0199246599.001.0001

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(p.1) Chapter 1 Introduction
The Welfare State as Piggy Bank

Nicholas Barr (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The chapter introduces the core arguments of the book: that the welfare state exists not only to relieve poverty (the ‘Robin Hood’ function) but also to provide insurance and consumption smoothing over the life cycle (the ‘piggy‐bank’ function). The latter is the focus of this book, which discusses insurance (unemployment insurance, medical insurance, long‐term care insurance), pensions (i.e. redistribution from one's younger to one's older self) and education finance, notably student loans (i.e. redistribution from one's older to one's younger self). The state has a major role in these areas because private institutions face problems of imperfect information, risk, and uncertainty.

Keywords:   consumption smoothing, education finance, imperfect information, insurance, medical insurance, pensions, risk, student loans, uncertainty, unemployment insurance, welfare state

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