Comparative Welfare States Dataset


The Comparative Welfare States Dataset was compiled as part of the project the Welfare State in Comparative Perspective, directed by Evelyne Huber, Charles Ragin and John Stephens. The focus of the project was to collect a wide range of indicators of welfare state development, its causes and its outcomes.


Comparative Welfare States Dataset

Comparative Welfare States Dataset


Comparative Welfare States Dataset






18 countries

Last reviewed


Data types and sources

Political variables are based on expert coding. Socioeconomic data based on official registers, national accounts and surveys, gathered from international organisations such as the OECD and the ILO.

Data download

Comparative Welfare States Dataset


The dataset is divided into seven major topics:

  1. Wage and salary data
  2. Social spending, revenue, and welfare state institutional data
  3. Labour force and labour institutions data
  4. Demographic data
  5. Macroeconomic data: Penn World Table
  6. Macroeconomic data: Others
  7. Political variables

Geographical coverage

The latest release of the dataset (April 2004) contains data for 18 countries.

Time coverage and updates

Data exist for 1960-2000. The producers of the dataset state that they intend to update it every three or four years. The dataset has not been updated since 2004.


A codebook is available for download together with the dataset. Some of the political variables are not described in sufficient detail to allow independent researchers to replicate the data without consulting other publications.

Access conditions and cost

Available free of charge. Commercial use of the data is prohibited.

Access procedures

Predefined table.

Data formats


Comparability and data quality

Not examined in detail. See chapter 5 in Rydland et al. (2008) for a general discussion of measures of political institutions.

Electronic resource



Huber, Evelyne, Charles Ragin, John D. Stephens, David Brady and Jason Beckfield. 2004. Comparative Welfare States Data Set, Northwestern University, University of North Carolina, Duke University and Indiana University.

Rydland, Lars Tore, Sveinung Arnesen and Åse Gilje Østensen. 2008. Contextual data for the European Social Survey. An Overview and assessment of extant resources. NSD Report No.124, Norwegian Social Science Data Services (NSD).