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Testo disponibile solo in lingua inglese.
This article discusses some of the traits peculiar to the southern European type of welfare state, identifying the institutional challenges which it now has to address. In Spain, Portugal, Greece and, to a lesser extent, Italy, the welfare state developed later than in the rest of continental and northern Europe, and had to adjust to less favourable socio-economic environments, including the severe backwardness of the southernmost regions. In the 1990s, social protection thus entered the age of "permanent austerity" in a state of financial and institutional underdevelopment, which was aggravated by sectorial and local imbalances. The four countries have thus been forced to tread the politically perilous road of internal restructuring; meaning less generous benefits for "insiders" and traditional risks, and new programmes for "outsiders", albeit only to the extent that budgetary constraints allow. The Italian reforms of the 1990s are reconstructed in some depth by the author, who concludes by speculating about the future perspectives of southern European welfare within the new European context.