A political revolution now under way among Western countries may have drastic repercussions on the poor. For most of the post-war period, government programmes designed to raise the income share of the poor proliferated and expanded. In the wake of the world-wide slowdown in economic growth following the first oil embargo of 1973, critics argued that the gains from redistributional programmes are far outweighed by adverse side-effects that reduce work and savings. These arguments have been taken with increasing seriousness. In the United States, England, Germany, and even in the Netherlands and Scandinavia, public income transfer programmes have been or are being cut back. On the face of it, only France and Italy seem to be resisting this trend; Switzerland, though it partook in the rapid expansion of the earlier period, has temporarily reached a plateau in spending.