This paper discusses changes and new directions in the gendered nature of the welfare state in three post-state socialist societies: Hungary, Poland and Romania. Relying on an analysis of laws and regulations passed after 1989 concerning child care, maternity and parental leave, family support, unemployment and labor market policies, retirement and abortion laws, the authors identify the differences and the similarities among the three countries, pointing out not only their status in 2001, but also their trajectory, the dynamics and timing of their change. The authors argue that there are essential differences between the three countries in terms of women’s relationship to the welfare state. They also specify some of the key historical and social variables which might explain variation across countries.

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