Liberalism and the welfare state in Britain, 1890-1945

Roger E. Backhouse, Bradley W. Bateman, Tamotsu Nishizawa

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

3 Citations (Scopus)


This chapter establishes that the British welfare state was the creation of Liberals as much as socialists. By the early twentieth century, the “New Liberalism” was moving the Liberal Party away from Gladstonian Liberalism, and the Asquith government took major steps toward a welfare state before World War I. The economists arguing for the welfare state included many Liberals, notably Alfred Marshall, J. A. Hobson, A. C. Pigou, William Beveridge, and John Maynard Keynes. British Liberalism was varied, and influential strands within it were strongly supportive of the welfare state. Beveridge and Keynes, in particular, were responsible for much of the intellectual architecture of the welfare state as it was implemented by the first postwar Labour government of Clement Attlee.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLiberalism and the Welfare State
Subtitle of host publicationEconomists and Arguments for the Welfare State
EditorsRoger E. Backhouse, Bradley W. Bateman, Tamotsu Nishizawa, Dieter Plehwe
PublisherSIPRI/Oxford University Press
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9780190676681
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017


  • Asquith
  • Attlee
  • Beveridge
  • Keynes
  • Liberalism
  • New liberalism
  • Welfare state

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)
  • General Business,Management and Accounting


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