DEFINITION of 'Welfare State'

A concept of government in which the state plays a key role in the protection and promotion of the economic and social well-being of its citizens. A welfare state is based on the principles of equality of opportunity, equitable distribution of wealth and public responsibility for those unable to avail themselves of the minimal provisions of a good life. Under this system, the welfare of its citizens is the responsibility of the state.

BREAKING DOWN 'Welfare State'

Under this method, the government oversees and administers healthcare, education, employment, social security and other resources that help maintain the standard of living of the state's citizens.


Supplemental Social Security Income (SSI) is one of these programs. SSI is a federal income supplement program funded by general tax revenues, not by Social Security taxes that was initiated in order to help the less fortunate.

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