A comparative-historical study of welfare states in the former communist region of East Central Europe. Inglot analyzes almost one hundred years of expansion of social insurance programs across different political regimes. He places these programs in a larger political and socioeconomic context, which includes the most recent developments since the advent of democracy. Based on this research, he argues that despite apparent similarities the welfare states of East Central Europe, Czechoslovakia (Czech Republic and Slovakia since 1993), Poland, and Hungary have pursued distinct historical paths of development and change. He examines the highly unusual evolution of these welfare states in detail, tracing alternating periods of growth and retrenchment/reform, which he links to political and economic crises under communist rule. Inglot uses this comparative analysis of welfare systems to examine the continued influence of history over the politics and policies of the social safety nets in Eastern Europe.