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Etapa del Estado del Bienestar (1978 hasta nuestros días)

A decisive point in the development of the Social Security was the approval of the 1978 Spanish Constitution, in which several of the provisions explicitly refer to the Social Security, in particular Article 41, which is considered to be key for understanding the public protection system in Spain and which designs the current Social Security model. In the Article it declares its governing principle for social and economic policy to be the maintenance, by the public powers, of a public Social Security system for all citizens that guarantees sufficient benefits in situations of need, especially in the case of unemployment. Additional benefits and assistance will be optional.

This democratic stage was characterised by the presence of the following elements:

  • Financial reform, which translated into the full integration of the Social Security budgets into the General State Budget, which would enable greater transparency based on the existence of parliamentary control of expenditure and revenue of the Social Security and the consolidation of the public nature of the System.
  • Participation and control of social partners (unions and employers´ organisations) in the operation of the Social Security System, through their involvement in the management and control organisations of the Social Security.
  • Increase of financial resources with the aim of achieving the average levels of spending on social protection in relation to countries on the same socio-economic level.
  • Differentiation of non-contributory benefits linked to citizenship and funded with resources from taxes and contributory benefits related to contributing workers and their families.

Universal benefits granted to all citizens and with the requirements established for each situation were:

    • Health care.
    • Social services.
    • Non-contributory old age and disability pensions.
    • Benefits for the birth or adoption and benefits granted to vulnerable families (with disabled members, single-parent, large, with a lack of resources), as well as non-contributory maternity benefits.
    • Benefits of the dependency system.

They were benefits granted at the contributory level:

    • Temporary financial benefits for work-related injuries and common or occupational diseases.
    • Benefits for contributory retirement, permanent disability, widowhood, orphanhood and family members.
    • Benefits for maternity, risk during pregnancy, paternity and risk during breastfeeding.
    • Unemployment benefit for employed workers.
  • The benefits gradually extended, covering legal loopholes that result in unprotected situations, and reducing the differences between groups of employed workers or even between dependent workers and self-employed workers.
  • Public social protection benefits were completed with the creation and organisation of supplementary social welfare through individual instruments (Pension Plans and Funds) linked to collective bargaining and personal savings.

Noteworthy among the measures implemented in this stage because of their qualitative importance were those aimed at improving the work-life balance of working people, the improvements in family protection, gradual and flexible partial retirement and measures for the effective equality of women and men with a view to granting the right to work-life balance and greater sharing of responsibility between women and men when carrying out family duties.

Finally, the recent Social Security Measures Act, which aimed to guarantee financial sustainability and the improvement in the levels of welfare for all citizens. These measures were based on a series of circumstances such as the ageing population, the inclusion of women into the labour market and the phenomenon of immigration.

We can conclude that the extension of the scope of coverage of social protection experienced over recent years and aligned with the societal changes of the 21st century have contributed to consolidating and improving the Spanish welfare state.

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