The COVID-19 crisis and policy responses by continental European welfare states

Social protection in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands share Bismarckian roots. Over time, these welfare states were however in constant flux and incorporated to a greater or lesser extend elements of both the Anglo-Saxon and Nordic models. While the Netherlands has from the beginning deviated from the Bismarckian model, in recent years this welfare state has undergone important reforms that have made it increasingly evolve into a “Bismarck cum Beveridge” model. Germany and Belgium also witnessed a dual transformation, with retrenched earnings-related benefits for long-term unemployed and an increasing number of atypically employed people on the one hand and expanded social security to the so-called “new social risks” on the other. It is against this changing institutional background that we can understand the similarities and differences in the extent to which these three continental welfare states used traditional social insurance systems to buffer the social and economic consequences of confinement.