This text demonstrates how instruments of economics can be usefully employed to analyse social policy. The merits and limits of social policy programmes are discussed as answers to problems of market societies. Taking this approach the author addresses such key issues as access to health services, pension programmes, unemployment, poverty and family support. Microeconomic tools are used to evaluate the rationale behind these programmes, underpinning the theoretical propostions with strong empirical research. Economic values are shown to harmonize with, rather than condemn, ideas of social protection. Providing information about institutional structures of social policy programmes in many countries, this book should be of interest to academics and students interested in social policy and the welfare state. Furthermore, those who want to follow the political and scientific discussion of social policy matters should find it useful.