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Social democracy

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Social democracy is an ideology or form of government, where the state protects the economic and social well-being of it citizens through a welfare state. It is a form of capitalism where there is some form of a market economy, but where the government uses regulation to promote equal opportunities and an (at least somewhat) equal distribution of wealth. Social democracies mostly have free or partly free health care, education, child support, and social care, and other social services, like pensions when someone is old or unemployed.

Many countries, especially in Western Europe, introduced social democratic policies after the Great Depression caused high unemployment and many people living in poverty. The policies were often in response to communism, which called for a planned economy, the end of capitalism, and more rights for workers. While most people believed that communism would be going too far, they also saw that capitalism wasn't perfect and wanted to reform it. For example, when employers didn't pay their workers enough, the workers would end up in poverty, so social democrats wanted to introduce a minimum wage, meaning that employers had to pay their workers at least a certain amount.

Social democratic policies are common today in most western countries, such as France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom, and also Australia and Canada. The Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden) are known for their social democratic system, called the Nordic model. The United States made some limited social democratic reforms under president Franklin D. Roosevelt, such as social security. After World War II, Europe was very damaged and poor. With the Marshall Plan, the Americans helped Western Europe rebuild. Most countries agreed that nobody should have to live in poverty, because they are old, disabled or unemployed. During the 1950s and 1960s many countries made these policies into law.