This paper compares the system of social maintenance and insurance in the Soviet Union, which was in force in the three Baltic countries before their independence, with the currently existing social security systems. The aim of the paper is to highlight the forces that have influenced social policy transformation from its former highly universal, however authoritarian form, to the less universal, social insurance-based systems of present day Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

It will be demonstrated that the welfare–economy nexus is not the only important factor in the development of social programs. Rather, social policy should be studied as if embedded in the political, historical and cultural aspects of a given society. The people’s attitude towards distributive justice will be highlighted as being one of the most important factors for either social policy shortcomings or expansion.

This paper takes steps to combine quantitative and qualitative data.

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